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Last Update: 2 Day and 2 Hour and 23 Minute ago
News code: 24039
Published Date: Monday 13 November 2017 - 14:07:15
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ASEAN ignores Rohingya Muslims

ASEAN ignores Rohingya Muslims
World  - A draft of the statement to be issued after a Southeast Asian summit makes no mention of the exodus of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar's Rakhine state following a military crackdown that has been described by the United Nations as ethnic cleansing.

One paragraph of the communiqué, seen by Reuters on Monday, mentions the importance of humanitarian relief provided for victims of natural disasters in Vietnam and a recent urban battle with Islamist militants in the Philippines, as well as "affected communities" in northern Rakhine state.

The statement was drawn up by the Philippines, current chair of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) - which includes Myanmar - whose leaders met for a plenary session in Manila on Monday.

The draft did not give any details of the situation in northern Rakhine or use the term Rohingya for the persecuted Muslim minority, which Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi has asked foreign leaders to avoid.

Well over 600,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh to find shelter in refugee camps after military clearance operations were launched in response to attacks by Rohingya militants on security posts on Aug. 25.

Some members of ASEAN, particularly Muslim-majority Malaysia, have voiced concern. However, in keeping with ASEAN's principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of one another, the issue appears to have been put aside at the summit.

Suu Kyi, who did not mention the crisis in a speech after arriving in Manila on Sunday, criticized ASEAN's principle of non-interference herself in 1999 when she was fighting for democracy in a country then ruled by a military junta.

"This policy of non-interference is just an excuse for not helping," she wrote in an opinion column in the Thai daily the Nation at the time. "In this day and age, you cannot avoid interference in the matters of other countries."

Roberto Romulo, a former Philippine foreign minister, told the Philippine news channel ANC that there appeared to be no discussion about the Rohingya at the ASEAN summit.

News Code: 24039
Published Date: Monday 13 November 2017 - 14:07:15
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