Myanmar, whose de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi skipped this year’s summit in Singapore, has been under pressure since some 700,000 people began fleeing from violence in Rakhine State to Bangladesh in August last year.
The Myanmar delegation, led by newly elected President Win Myint, briefed the meeting on the situation in Rakhine state.
The Asean leaders said they continued to support Myanmar’s humanitarian relief programme in Rakhine. They also welcomed the ongoing work by the Asean Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management (AHA Centre) within Myanmar’s mechanisms to deliver humanitarian assistance to all displaced persons without discrimination, according to the chairman’s statement issued at the meeting yesterday.
While the repatriation of Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh has been delayed due to the unreadiness of Myanmar, the Asean leaders said they looked forward to the expeditious commencement of the voluntary return of displaced persons to Myanmar in a safe, secure and dignified way without undue delay.
However, leaders of the group stressed the need to find a comprehensive and durable solution to address the root causes of the conflict and to create a conducive environment so that the affected communities can rebuild their lives.
Myanmar and Bangladesh reached a deal in November last year to send back thousands of Rohingya refugees, but many of them resisted the plan and demanded guarantees of a safe return.
A United Nations Security Council’s delegation yesterday began its visit to Bangladesh and Myanmar to assess the situation after reports indicated that there was an element of ethnic cleansing in Rakhine state since last year after the Myanmar military’s “clearance operation”.
The Asean leaders did not mention Myanmar’s harsh handling, discrimination and ethnic cleansing. The group also refrained from using the term “Rohingya” in any official document.
The group urged Myanmar to continue to implement the recommendations of the final report of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine state. It also welcomed the establishment of the advisory board that has been led in an individual capacity by the former Thai deputy prime minister and foreign minister Surakiart Sathirathai.
“We expressed our support for the Myanmar government in its efforts to bring peace, stability and the rule of law, to promote harmony and reconciliation among the various communities, as well as to ensure sustainable and equitable development in Rakhine State,” according to the Asean chairman’s statement. The Asean leaders also welcomed the Inter-Korea summit in which the North and South Koreas pledged denuclearisation and the planned summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump.
Published : April 28, 2018
By : SUPALAK GANJANAKHUNDEE THE SUNDAY NATION