YANGON: Myanmar faced pressure from Asean foreign ministers over the Rohingya crisis in talks held by its leader Aung San Suu Kyi yesterday, with Malaysia’s minister urging that she act without delay to dispel allegations of ethnic cleansing and genocide of her country’s minority Muslim population.
The informal one-day meeting in Yangon, held at the initiative of Malaysia, came amid mounting international concerns over the situation in Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine, where military operations have been under way since October.
Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said the Asean ministers had an “open, frank and constructive discussion on the complex situation there, including the provision of humanitarian aid”.
“The ministers also exchanged views on how Asean can best assist Myanmar in seeking a viable and long-term solution for the benefit of all the affected communities in Rakhine state,” he said.
The closed-door talks were held among the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, with all except Vietnam, Cambodia and Brunei represented by their foreign ministers. Ms Suu Kyi holds the dual position of state counsellor and foreign minister.
Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman cited continued reports, from multiple sources, alleging arbitrary arrests, extrajudicial killings, rape, burning of Rohingya villages as well as destruction of homes and places of worship.
“Time and again, my government has expressed our grave concern on the continued violence in ... Rakhine state that has resulted in the loss of innocent lives and the displacement of people,” Mr Anifah said, according to a text made available by his ministry.
“We believe that in order to dispel these allegations of ‘ethnic cleansing’ or in some cases ‘genocide’, it is incumbent upon the government to be transparent and to provide timely and accurate information as well as provide access to the affected areas.”