Tuesday, November 14, 2017


Jakarta, Nov 14, 2017 (Antara)- The international media have reported that a draft of the statement to be issued at the end of the 31st ASEAN Summit held in Manila on Nov 13-14, would not mention the ongoing prolonged humanitarian crisis happening in Myanmar's Rakhine State, home to over one million Rohingya ethnic minority.
         This is not a surprise for ASEAN which follows principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of one another. But, individually and in bilateral meetings held on the sidelines of the Manila Summit, Rohingya plight is not totally forgotten.
         During a bilateral meeting held in Manila on Nov 13, President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres agreed to the need to immediately address the humanitarian crisis being faced by the Rohingya minority in Rakhine State.
         "If it is not solved (immediately), the crisis could affect regional stability and security. A prolonged crisis could trigger radicalism and even terrorism," President Jokowi said.
         Jokowi and Guterres shared a common concern regarding the humanitarian crisis in Rakhine State, where Rohingya people were prosecuted and discriminated.       
    They called for a speedy solution to the problem and for the signing of a memorandum of understanding on repatriation between Myanmar and Bangladesh, the neighboring country that has some 600 thousand Rohingya refugees.
         In September, Guterres said the situation in Rakhine was best described as ethnic cleansing.  
    During the bilateral meeting, Guterres lauded the Indonesian government and people for helping the prosecuted Rohingya people.
         The Indonesian Government has approached the Myanmar Government to return peace in Rakhine, and sent humanitarian aid for the affected communities both in Rakhine and in the border of Bangladesh.
         The Indonesian government will again send humanitarian aid comprising 30 tons of rice, one ton of sugar, 2,004 packages of instant food, 14 thousand blankets, 20 emergency tents, 10 water tanks, 600 packages of family kits, and 900 packages of clothing to Bangladesh.

         In addition to, Indonesia will also send 20 tons of instant food, food for babies and pregnant women, medicines, and water filter devices to Myanmar.
         Besides, Indonesia is encouraging Myanmar and Bangladesh to cooperate in efforts to repatriate Rohingya refugees back to their homes.
         To do so, both governments should immediately complete and sign a memorandum of understanding on refugee repatriation from Bangladesh back to Myanmar.
         "We emphasize that the sooner the draft MoU of their repatriation is signed, the better it will be. And so we urge that it could be signed soon," Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said on the sidelines of the 31st ASEAN Summit in Manila on Nov 12.
         The minister said she has presented a 4+1 Formula to Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi as a solution to the crisis, as well as to create peace and reconciliation in Rakhine State.
         The formula consists of four main elements: restoring stability and security; maximum restraint and non-violence; protection to all those living in the Rakhine State regardless of race and religion; and immediate access to humanitarian aid.
         Another one plus element is the implementation of the Advisory Commission Report's recommendations to Rakhine State led by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
         In general, Indonesia and ASEAN are involved in the distribution of humanitarian aid in Rakhine State. The aid delivery mechanism is led by the government of Myanmar, but it involves the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and several countries, including Indonesia and other ASEAN member countries.
         Prof Hikmahanto Juwana, an international law expert from the University of Indonesia (UI), however, has believed that ASEAN should do more than that.
         ASEAN member countries should take concrete measures such as an economic embargo on the Government of Myanmar until its change its policy on Rohingya, he stated on Nov 14.
         Myanmar must not let its personnel in the fields to persecute Rohingya ethnic minority, he added.
         The Government of Myanmar must accept the Rohingya refugees stranded in the border between Myanmar and Bangladesh.
         Lastly, the government must reconstruct villages and settlement areas for the Rohingya people whose homes were destroyed and burned.
         Juwana hoped that the leaders of ASEAN member countries gathering in Manila for the 31st ASEAN Summit would discuss the matters concerning Rohingya persecution by their own government, who has denied their nationality.
         He hoped that Rohingya will finally be recognized as the nationals of Myanmar, in accordance with the condition and regulation of Myanmar.
         Meanwhile, Chairperson of the Inter-Parliamentary Cooperation Board of the Indonesian House of Representatives (DPR), Nurhayati Ali Assegaf, has called for a concrete international cooperation to solve the humanitarian crisis in Rakhine.
         "A major challenge in implementing migrant integration is the stereotyping of religion, national or ethnic groups, which tends to become xenophobic based on faith, religion, or ethnicity," Assegaf, of the Democratic Party (PD), revealed in a statement recently.
         Xenophobia must be stopped because it could hamper social integration of migrants, she added. ***2***

(T.F001/A/BESSR/Bustanuddin) 15-11-2017

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