Singapore calls for calm in Myanmar conflict

Demonstrators taking part in a rally outside the Myanmar Embassy in Jakarta yesterday, one of several protests that took place in Asian cities to condemn the violence in Myanmar's Rakhine state. Rohingya refugees living in Malaysia joining the protes
Demonstrators taking part in a rally outside the Myanmar Embassy in Jakarta yesterday, one of several protests that took place in Asian cities to condemn the violence in Myanmar's Rakhine state.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Demonstrators taking part in a rally outside the Myanmar Embassy in Jakarta yesterday, one of several protests that took place in Asian cities to condemn the violence in Myanmar's Rakhine state. Rohingya refugees living in Malaysia joining the protes
Rohingya refugees living in Malaysia joining the protest in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. The demonstration in the country was led for the first time by ruling party Umno.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Republic urges all parties to avoid worsening crisis, offers to work with Asean to render aid

Singapore yesterday urged all parties to the violence in Myanmar's Rakhine state to avoid aggravating the conflict, as it offered to work with Asean in rendering humanitarian aid to the victims.

The statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) came as thousands of Muslims in various Asian cities protested against the unfolding violence afflicting the Rohingya community.

Thousands protested in Indonesia, Bangladesh and Pakistan, while smaller protests took place in Malaysia, India-administered Kashmir, the Philippines and Japan.

Ms Lee Yanghee, the United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, told Agence France-Presse yesterday that more than 1,000 people, mostly minority Rohingya Muslims, may already have been killed in Myanmar - more than twice the total figure from the government.

Singapore's MFA noted that the Rakhine situation "is a complex inter-communal issue with deep historical roots".

"All the parties involved must avoid actions that will further worsen the situation on the ground and work together to foster viable and long-term solutions so that the affected communities can rebuild their lives. Authorities must ensure the safety of civilians," MFA said.

 
 

"As a close friend and fellow Asean neighbour, Singapore stands ready to support efforts by Asean to utilise the existing mechanisms to provide humanitarian assistance to the affected people in the Rakhine state," the ministry said, offering its "deepest condolences" to the victims and their families.

The ministry said that the situation in Myanmar affects all Asean countries, and Singapore is therefore "prepared to work with the Myanmar government to support their efforts to restore peace and stability. That is in our common interest for the region".

In Malaysia, the demonstration by some 100 people was led for the first time by ruling party Umno, with some calling for the shutdown of the Myanmar Embassy in Kuala Lumpur if violence against the Rohingya continues.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, reacting to pressure from Umno members, said he may raise the Rohingya issue when he meets United States President Donald Trump at the White House on Tuesday, saying: "Yes, I might bring this matter to him."

Datuk Seri Najib said the Rohingya issue had to be resolved "at the source".

"It is unfair for affected parties to inflict more cost to Malaysia to manage and to receive these people when they should be allowed fundamental and universal rights that have been denied to them," he added.

A second Malaysian humanitarian mission to help Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh will depart today, following an earlier mission in February.

In Indonesia, hundreds of protesters gathered near the famous Borobudur temple in Central Java, and hundreds more outside the Myanmar Embassy in Jakarta.

They had wanted to hold the protest at the ancient temple itself, but police barred them from gathering at the cultural heritage site earlier in the week.

 

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 09, 2017, with the headline 'S'pore calls for calm in Myanmar conflict'. Print Edition | Subscribe