Philippines respects split on ASEAN statement


Before the chair's statement, ASEAN has kept mum on the crisis involving Bangladesh and member-state Myanmar.

Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi told the Jakarta Post that the ASEAN chairperson's statement was a result of a closed-door meeting of foreign ministers on the sidelines of the United Nations assembly on Saturday. In his September 19 speech to the General Assembly, Guterres called for Myanmar's government to "end the military operations" and "allow unhindered humanitarian access", calling the situation there "a vicious cycle of persecution, discrimination, radicalization and violent repression".

World leaders and high-level representatives gathered in NY to address the assembly this week, with many urging action on the situation in Rakhine, where an August 25 attack on 30 police outposts and the subsequent military crackdown by government security forces have garnered global attention and sparked claims of ethnic cleansing.

Over 430,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh in under a month, telling stories of Myanmar soldiers teaming up with vigilante mobs to kill civilians and burn entire villages to the ground. The UN termed it a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing".

Richard Heydarian, a political science professor at the De La Salle University in Manila, said the "watered down" chairman's statement clearly shows how consideration was given to the Myanmar government's position.

However, fire was still seen on September 23 burning the Rohingya villages, Amnesty International said, while Doctors Without Borders said hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas internally displaced in Rakhine were facing shortages of life-saving assistance.

The Philippines said Monday it respects Malaysia's decision to dissociate itself from a statement on Myanmar's Rakhine state issued by Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano as chairman of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

In a public display of discord within ASEAN, of which Myanmar is a member, Malaysia disassociated itself from a statement issued by group chair the Philippines as it misrepresented the situation and did not identify the Rohingya as one of the affected communities.

While expressing concern over the spiraling violence in Myanmar, Cayetano's statement - unlike the predominant thread of reports out of Rakhine showing systematic arson, and even alleged rape of the Rohingya - simply categorized the crisis as a "complex inter-communal issue" with deep historical roots.

"At the same time, DAP urges Wisma Putra to exhaust all diplomatic means necessary to press the Government of Myanmar for a speedy resolution and an end to the unnecessary violence in our region", he added.

In a statement by APRRN Programme Coordinator Evan Jones, the Thailand-based rights body demanded implementation of all recommendations of the Rakhine Advisory Commission led by Kofi Annan.

It also urged the global community to rally around Bangladesh that is under extreme pressure in the face of this humanitarian emergency. "There are also other regional conventions and declarations that endorse the principle, such as the 1969 OAU Refugee Convention, the 1969 American Convention on Human Rights, and the 1966 Bangkok Principles on Status and Treatment of Refugees".

"The Rohingya are literally fleeing their burning homes".

"If India had not signed the Convention against Torture, would Indian authorities have carte blanche to torture and ill-treat anyone in custody?"

Indian government says it is anxious about the entry of refugees with links to Rohingya militants.