Myanmar must bring Rohingya genocide culprits to justice: Malaysian minister Saifuddin Abdullah

A Rohingya refugee performs prayers in a ceremony to remember the first anniversary of a military crackdown that prompted a mass exodus of people from Myanmar to Bangladesh, at the Kutupalong refugee camp in Ukhia, on Aug 25, 2018.
A Rohingya refugee performs prayers in a ceremony to remember the first anniversary of a military crackdown that prompted a mass exodus of people from Myanmar to Bangladesh, at the Kutupalong refugee camp in Ukhia, on Aug 25, 2018.PHOTO: AFP

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysia is pressing the Myanmar government to take action to stop the continued persecution of the Rohingya ethnic minority and bring the perpetrators to justice.

Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah said Malaysia would continue to speak out on the issue, as the resulting humanitarian crisis from the widespread movement of Rohingya refugees could cause instability in the region.

At present, there are almost a million Rohingyas who have found refuge in Bangladesh.

"As we work towards a sustainable solution to the situation, one which will preserve the dignity and lives of the Rohingyas, the international community must do all it can to support Bangladesh.

"Malaysia has done so, and will continue to do so," Datuk Saifuddin said in a press statement issued on Wednesday (Aug 29).

The statement was issued in response to the report by the United Nations Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar.

The report said top military figures in Myanmar must be investigated for genocide in Rakhine state and crimes against humanity in other areas.

"The UN report... provides incontrovertible proof of what the Myanmar military and its government has been denying all this time: intentional, concerted, systematic, consistent, and planned acts and policies to destroy and remove, in particular, ethnic Rohingyas, from Myanmar," said Mr Saifuddin.

He added that as a member of Asean, Myanmar must subscribe to the ideals of the Asean Charter, which states that members must respect fundamental freedoms, the promotion and protection of human rights, and the promotion of social justice.

While Malaysia stood by the principle of non-interference, there were concerns in the humanitarian, security and strategic areas, he said.

"The widespread movement of the Rohingyas creates instability in the region, and could easily become a rallying call for violent extremism in the region.

"All these potentially have deep implications for Malaysia and the region. For this reason, Malaysia cannot be silent, or ignore the Rohingya crisis that is happening at its doorstep," he added.

Mr Saifuddin said the Myanmar government had the primary responsibility to take action against the perpetrators of the crimes.

He added that if Myanmar was unwilling or incapable of ensuring justice in this regard, then the UN Security Council had the responsibility to establish an international judicial mechanism to try those individuals most responsible for these crimes.

"So let me say to my friends in Myanmar - Live up to the ideals of General Aung San. Bring the condemned perpetrators to justice. Let the Rohingya return to peace and a life of dignity," he said.

The UN considers the Rohingya one of the most persecuted minorities in the world.

As of July this year, there are 75,520 Rohingya refugees and asylum seekers registered with the UNHCR in Malaysia.