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At ASEAN, Myanmar’s Rohingya in spotlight

Ethnic violence in Myanmar has topped the agenda among regional foreign ministers amid fears the unrest could spill into neighbouring ASEAN states.

In a briefing yesterday, ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwin said the issue remains a key topic. “In relation to the issue of the Rohingya in the Rakhine state, 800,000 people are now under tremendous pressure.

We appreciate the efforts of the government of Myanmar, but if that issue is not handled well and effectively, there is a risk of radicalisation, there is a risk of extremism, and that will not be in the interests of anybody in the region.

The international community has expressed their concern,” he said. Violence between the stateless Rohingya Muslim minority and the Buddhist majority in the western state has threatened to undermine Myanmar’s democratic progresses.

But the Myanmar government has resisted humanitarian efforts by ASEAN in the past – most recently refusing to assent to a foreign ministers meeting on the situation, calling the issue an internal affair.

To contact the reporter on this story: Abby Seiff at abby.seiff@phnompenhpost.com

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