KUALA LUMPUR: The precarious situation pertaining to issues on the Rohingya in Myanmar's Rakhine state must be addressed urgently, or else it will provide a fertile breeding ground for recruitment of extremists, said Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman.
While expressing Malaysia’s grave concerns on the matter, Anifah said there is concern that the Islamic State militant group, seeking to further expand its network in Southeast Asia and South Asia, would take advantage of the crisis.
"Should this happen, Malaysia and neighbouring countries would bear the brunt of serious instability to the region (ASEAN)," he said during the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Contact Group’s session on the Rohingya Muslim Minority in Myanmar, held on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Monday (Sep 19).
Anifah said that as Malaysia reiterated its commitment to extend support and assist the Myanmar government to address the complex challenges in Rakhine state, the latter must also stop military action immediately and allow unimpeded access for the delivery of the humanitarian aid.
“We urge the government of Myanmar to ensure the return of all internally displaced persons (IDPs) with safety and dignity to Rakhine state, including the restoration of their status since the revocation of their rights in 1982,” he said, adding that this was to ensure that the Rohingya’s “unjustifiable statelessness” be reversed.
Anifah said Malaysia had also called on Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi for the immediate implementation of all the recommendations of the nine-member advisory commission on Rakhine state, which was chaired by the former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan.
The findings of the commission, which were released recently, among others, stated that the government of Myanmar must scrap restrictions on movement and citizenship of the Rohingya in order to avoid fuelling “extremism”.
The commission also stated that while Myanmar had every right to defend its own territory, a highly militarised response was unlikely to bring peace to the area of Rakhine State.
Speaking further, Anifah said the perpetrators who had committed crimes against humanity must be held accountable and be brought to justice.
“We must act now. We must move beyond rhetoric. We must save lives. We must ensure that the ancestral land of the Rohingyas is restored,” he said.