Umno Youth Wing urges UN to resolve Rohingya crisis

Rohingya refugees waiting for a boat to cross the border through the Naf river in Maungdaw, Myanmar, on Sept 7, 2017.
Rohingya refugees waiting for a boat to cross the border through the Naf river in Maungdaw, Myanmar, on Sept 7, 2017.

KUALA LUMPUR - The youth wing of ruling Malaysian party Umno on Friday (Sept 8) submitted a memorandum of demands to the United Nations (UN), urging it to put an end to the escalating violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state.

The memorandum was submitted to UN Resident Coordinator in Malaysia Stefan Priesner during a peaceful protest on Friday morning at the UN Malaysian headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, reported the New Straits Times.

Amongst the list of demands was for the UN to hold an emergency special session to address the plight of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. The protesters also requested that the UN set up a peacekeeping mission to restore security and facilitate critical aid in the crisis area.

Umno Youth deputy chief Khairul Azwan Harun told reporters: “Perhaps, we can help provide humanitarian aid to the Rohingya in the state."

A second, larger protest was planned in front of the Myanmar Embassy in Kuala Lumpur after Friday prayers at 3 pm, reported The Star. 

Both demonstrations were announced by Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin at a press conference at the Putra World Trade Centre on Thursday.  

"I invite all youths and the Rohingya community to join," he said, adding that Sungai Besar Umno chief Datuk Jamal Md Yunus would be present at the protests.

Mr Khairy said Umno Youth had previously urged a resolution to the crisis last November.

"The situation has worsened, with its climax on Aug 25 where more than 400 houses were burnt, and in two weeks nearly 125,000 Rohingya refugees left Myanmar for Bangladesh. The UN expects this number to surpass 300,000," Mr Khairy added.

Hundreds of thousands of Myanmar's Rohingya minority have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh after violence broke out in north-western Rakhine state last month.

The violence flared after Rohingya insurgents attacked several police posts and an army base, triggering a military crackdown in response. Myanmar has defended the crackdown, saying its security forces are battling against terrorists who have been carrying out attacks against the police and army since last October.

The Rohingya, who have mostly been denied citizenship in Myanmar, have long complained of persecution in the Buddhist-majority country and are seen as illegal migrants from Bangladesh.

Malaysia's Deputy Foreign Minister Reezal Merican Naina Merican said on Thursday the Rohingya issue should be brought to the United Nations in order to find solutions, Bernama reported. He added that Malaysia could not act alone as the issue required the cooperation of other countries to help solve the problem.

Muslim countries have in recent weeks heaped pressure on Myanmar over the Rohingya issue. On Wednesday, Indonesian Muslims staged a protest outside the Myanmar embassy in Jakarta calling for an end to the violence against the group.