AS THE latest round of violence flares up again following the “clearance operations” by Myanmar’s military on Rohingya insurgents, the world continues to see impunity on the part of the violators of human rights and the international community’s inability to influence change in the Myanmar government’s policy on this marginalised community.
We are witnessing the renarration of past humanitarian catastrophes, such as that of Rwanda, Darfur, Bosnia and Kosovo, in this conflict-ridden country.
Leaders speaking out against the atrocities and calling for access for humanitarian aid must be collectively joined in the strongest possible terms by other world leaders and regional bodies. The world must see and condemn this unprecedented level of violence as an appalling humanitarian crisis.
The evidence of crimes against humanity on the Rohingya comprises murder, rape and torture, all of which supports the accusation of ethnic cleansing and urgently calls for decisive action. It is no longer acceptable for Asean to abdicate its collective voices and capacity to firmly and efficiently respond to this grave humanitarian tragedy in pursuit of its non-intervention policy.
Condemnation and reactive gestures are not sufficient. It is clear that peace efforts initiated at Myanmar’s domestic level have not addressed the decades of exclusion, marginalisation and persecution of the Rohingya. A broader long-term strategic framework for concerted regional actions within Asean’s purview, focusing on the root causes of discrimination, is acutely needed in responding to this ongoing crisis. Member states need to push harder for peace talks and other proactive strategies, including preventive and monitoring measures.
The central issue of the Rohingya’s lack of nationality and legal identity must no longer be treated as the elephant in the room in seeking a regional solution to halt their persecution, displacement and lifelong deprivation of rights and protection.