Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Asean urges Myanmar to hold army ‘accountable’



Asean urges Myanmar to hold army ‘accountable’

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Aung San Suu Kyi arrives for a meeting with late Vietnam’s President Tran Dai Quang in Hanoi on September 12. AFP

Asean urges Myanmar to hold army ‘accountable’

MYANMAR’S neighbours in Southeast Asia have urged the country to hold those responsible for the Rohingya crisis “accountable”, Singapore said Tuesday, in a rare call for justice from within the region.

Around 700,000 Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar’s western Rakhine state have fled across the border to Bangladesh since August last year following a military campaign that allegedly involved murder, rape, torture and razing villages.

As global pressure has mounted over the atrocities, Myanmar formed an “Independent Commission of Enquiry”, which is chaired by former Philippine deputy foreign minister Rosario Manalo – but gave no details of the commission’s remit, powers or how long it would take to complete its investigation.

Critics have blasted the commission for its toothlessness after Manalo said her commission will not be “blaming” or “finger pointing” anybody.

Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said he and his counterparts from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) met on September 29 on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York and discussed the situation in Rakhine.

“We expressed our grave concern with these alleged acts of violence that have led to loss of lives, injuries, destruction of homes and displacement of large numbers of people,” he said in parliament.

“To be brutally honest, this is a man-made humanitarian disaster and something which should not be happening in this day and age.”

He said the ministers told Myanmar that the commission “should be given a full mandate to investigate and to hold all those responsible fully accountable”.

Myanmar’s military has denied nearly all wrongdoing, justifying its crackdown as a legitimate means of rooting out Rohingya militants.

But after a fact-finding mission, the United Nations set up a panel to prepare indictments against Myanmar’s army chief and five other top military commanders for crimes against humanity and genocide.

Much of Myanmar’s majority Buddhist society regards the Rohingya as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and has for decades systematically stripped them of their rights.

Balakrishnan noted that Myanmar cannot be compelled by Asean to act as the 10-nation grouping makes decisions by consensus, which effectively gives each member veto powers.

The bloc however can influence Myanmar through “persuasion, through transparency and keeping this on the agenda” of their annual meetings, he said.

Asean members typically steer clear of openly criticising each other’s domestic policies.

Singapore, the current chair of Asean’s rotating leadership, will host a summit of the group’s leaders in November.

MOST VIEWED

  • Locations shut, dozens more Covid-19 positive

    The Ministry of Health has closed 23 locations in connection with the February 20 community transmission of Covid-19 and summoned for testing anyone who had direct contact with affected people and places. The number of discovered related infections has risen to 76, including 39 women. In a press release,

  • Kingdom's Covid cluster cases jump to 194

    The Ministry of Health on February 25 confirmed 65 new cases of Covid-19, with 58 linked to the February 20 community transmission. The latest cluster cases include nine Vietnamese nationals, five Cambodians, one each from Korea, Singapore and Japan, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total number

  • Cambodia's Covid cluster cases rise to 137

    The Ministry of Health on February 24 recorded 40 more cases of Covid-19, with 38 linked to the February 20 community transmission. Of the 40, two are imported cases involving Chinese passengers. The 38 include two Vietnamese nationals and one Cambodian, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total cases

  • Covid cluster raises alarm, health bodies urge vigilance

    The Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia have expressed great concern over the February 20 cluster transmission of Covid-19 in the community. Both entities appealed for vigilance and cooperation in curbing further spread of the virus. Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said

  • PM confirms third Covid-19 community transmission

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on February 20 announced the Kingdom's third outbreak of Covid-19 community transmission after 32 people tested positive in just over 10 hours. Addressing the public from his residence after an emergency meeting, Hun Sen said: "I dub it February 20 Community Event, in which 32 cases

  • Cambodia to make auto-rickshaws

    Locally-assembled electric auto-rickshaws could hit the Cambodian market as soon as early in May after the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) gave the greenlight to an investment project at the weekend. According to a CDC press release, it will issue a final registration