POST TIME: 7 March, 2018 00:00 00 AM
ASEAN MPs for robust role from bloc

ASEAN MPs for robust 
role from bloc

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) yesterday said the bloc of the Southeast Asian countries, which Myanmar is a member of, is yet to act decisively to address the Rohingya crisis. It laid emphasis on more robust actions into the crisis from the ASEAN and the governments of the member states. The APHR yesterday released, “The Rohingya Crisis: Past, Present, and Future,” a summary report of findings from a fact-finding mission to Bangladesh undertaken by members of the organisation in January, 2018.

The delegation, which included current and former legislators from Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand traveled to Dhaka and Cox’s Bazar from January 21 to 24 and visited the camps where hundreds of thousands of Rohingya people have settled since the start of a brutal military crackdown in Myanmar’s Rakhine State on 25 August, last year.

Speaking to these Rohingyas, as well as government officials and stakeholders providing humanitarian assistance, the APHR gathered information on human rights violations that the Rohingyas experienced in Myanmar, as well as rights concerns affecting these people in Bangladesh.

The delegation also sought to gain a clearer understanding of the proposed repatriation of the Rohingya people to Myanmar, amid concerns about the potential for unsafe and involuntary returns. “Visiting the camps and speaking directly with refugees (Rohingyas) provided an important window into what they

want and need. The harrowing stories we heard only bolstered our collective resolve as regional lawmakers to speak out and promote accountability and justice for the undeniable atrocities perpetrated against them,” said APHR Chairperson and Malaysian MP Charles Santiago, who led the delegation’s recent visit to Bangladesh.

The APHR’s latest findings build on the organisation’s previous work on the human rights situation in Myanmar and compliment a wide body of additional research and documentation being carried out by other groups. They also re-emphasised the importance of more robust action from the ASEAN and member governments to address the crisis.

“The Rohingya crisis is truly a regional one and requires a regional response. It’s clear that the ASEAN has an important role to play, but the regional grouping has yet to act decisively. Our report looks specifically at the question of what

the ASEAN can do, and provides concrete recommendations for how the ASEAN and member state governments can step up,” Santiago added.