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Rohingya crisis: Little can be done if Myanmar remains in denial - Anifah

Rohingya crisis: Little can be done if Myanmar remains in denial - Anifah
According to Anifah, the Rohingya issue is currently being discussed at the levels of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) as well as the UN. - Filepic/REUTERS
NEW YORK: The Rohingya crisis in Myanmar may have come to a head but little can be done to improve the situation if the republic remains in denial about the ongoing atrocities, said Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman.

"When they do not admit the violence or the atrocities committed against the Rohingya, it is very difficult (to take action). Only when they recognize what had actually happened can we plan and assist in the next course of action," he told reporters, here, today.
Anifah was speaking in response to a statement issued by the chairman of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on the matter which he described as "a misrepresentation of the reality of the situation".

Anifah, who had earlier issued a separate statement announcing Malaysia's motion to "disassociate itself" from the ASEAN chairman's statement, said that Malaysia has its own stance on this issue which should be recognised as a humanitarian crisis.
He said the Malaysian government is urging its counterpart in Myanmar to end the atrocities and take appropriate actions to, among others, allow access to humanitarian aid and grant citizenship to the Rohingya.

"We want humanitarian aid to be delivered unimpeded and hope that Rohingya refugees could go back to Myanmar without any restrictions," said Anifah after hosting a dialogue with Malaysian students and diaspora in New York City.

"Everyone knows that the Rohingya have no documents on them as they are not recognized as citizens of Myanmar. If they are required to prove citizenship through a document, then it is impossible for the refugees to return home," he added.

Two days ago, ASEAN chairman Alan Peter Cayetano who is also Philippines Secretary of Foreign Affairs, published a statement expressing ASEAN foreign ministers' concern "over the recent developments in northern Rakhine state of Myanmar".

The statement, which came on the sidelines of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in Manhattan, made no mention of the Rohingya as "one of the affected communities", according to Anifah.

"The chairman's statement does not represent the consensus of all member states. This violates the ASEAN Charter which clearly states that all decisions must be made on a consensus-basis.

"We will not be asking for the statement to be retracted but would like to highlight that the statement should not have quoted ASEAN foreign affairs because there was no consensus achieved," he said.

The Rohingya issue is currently being discussed at the levels of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) as well as the UN.