KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia summoned Myanmar's ambassador on Tuesday (Sep 5), saying it was "gravely concerned" over the “continuous violence” perpetrated against Rohingyas in Myanmar’s restive Rakhine state.
Foreign Minister Anifah Aman said the latest incidents of violence showed that the Myanmar government had made "little, if any" progress in finding a peaceful solution to problems facing the Rohingya minority, most of whom live in the northwest Myanmar state near the Bangladeshi border.
"Given these developments, Malaysia believes that the matter of sustained violence and discrimination against the Rohingyas should be elevated to a higher international forum," Anifah said in a statement.
Myanmar's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi has come under pressure from countries with large Muslim populations including Bangladesh, Indonesia and Pakistan to halt violence against Rohingya Muslims after nearly 125,000 of them fled to Bangladesh.
Muslim-majority Malaysia has been particularly outspoken in its concern about the plight of the Rohingya.
Myanmar says its security forces are fighting a legitimate campaign against "terrorists" responsible for a string of attacks on police posts and the army since last October.
The latest violence began on Aug 25, when Rohingya insurgents attacked dozens of police posts and an army base.
Myanmar officials blamed Rohingya militants for the burning of homes and civilian deaths but rights monitors and Rohingya fleeing to neighbouring Bangladesh say the Myanmar army is trying to force them out with a campaign of arson and killings.
The treatment of Buddhist-majority Myanmar's roughly 1.1 million Muslim Rohingya is the biggest challenge facing Suu Kyi, who has been accused by Western critics of not speaking out for the minority that has long complained of persecution.
"As a Nobel laureate who stood up for the principles of human rights, the international community had placed high expectation on Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to achieve peace and reconciliation in Myanmar," Anifah said.
"It is Malaysia's hope that she will be able to fulfil these expectations soon."
In a separate statement, Malaysia's foreign affairs ministry issued a travel advisory asking Malaysians to defer all non-essential travel to Rakhine State, and for Malaysians in Myanmar to "take all necessary precautions" and be aware of the security situation.
It added that Anifah had contacted his Iranian and Turkish counterparts about a proposal to convene a special meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) focused on the plight of Rohingya.