Rohingya Muslims

Indonesian foreign minister, Suu Kyi hold talks on Rohingya crisis

PUBLISHED : Monday, 04 September, 2017, 9:25pm
UPDATED : Monday, 04 September, 2017, 9:33pm

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said Monday that Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi has responded positively to Indonesia’s proposals to deal with the latest outbreak of conflict in that country’s Rakhine State, which has led up to 87,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee across the border to Bangladesh.

In a telephone interview from Yango, Marsudi told local Metro TV that she urged Myanmar authorities to minimise the use of force in restoring security and stability in the state, which has long been plagued by communal strife between Muslims and Buddhists, and to extend protection to people of all ethnicities and religions there.

She also urged them to facilitate delivery of humanitarian aid to people affected by the latest round of violence, which started Aug. 25 and is the most significant outbreak since October 2016.

“Indonesia’s proposals have been responded positively,” Marsudi said, adding that they are in line with recommendations included in a report made by the Advisory Commission of Rakhine State, headed by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

She said Indonesia expects that it can channel humanitarian aid to the Rohingya in Rakhine together with other Asean member states and the International Committee of the Red Cross under the coordination of the Myanmar government.

Since arriving in Myanmar on Sunday, Marsudi has also met its military chief Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing and others in the government besides Suu Kyi, who doubles as foreign minister.

Clashes broke out in the early hours of Aug. 25 in Maungdaw in the northern part of Rakhine, which is mostly populated by Rohingya, a persecuted, stateless minority, when Rohingya militants attacked security outposts and police stations.

The military subsequently launched clearance operations that have reportedly led to the deaths of hundreds, including many civilians. It claims to have killed around 370 insurgents.

Up to 87,000 Rohingya Muslims have been recorded as having crossed the border to Bangladesh since then, adding to the several hundred thousand already there from earlier rounds of violence in Rakhine.

Most of them are sheltered in makeshift settlements and refugee camps in the neighbouring country, which will be visited by Marsudi from Tuesday.

Up to 20,000 people are reportedly still stranded at the zero zone along the border of the two countries, while an estimated 12,000 ethnic Rakhine Buddhists are internally displaced in Myanmar, sheltering in public buildings and receiving help from the government there.

On Sunday, Indonesian President Joko Widodo expressing his regret over the clashes in Rakhine, saying, “The violence must be stopped.”

On Monday, hundreds of Muslim women staged a protest in front of Myanmar embassy in Jakarta, calling for a stop to “Rohingya genocide.”

Similar protests were also held Monday in some major cities in Indonesia, which has the largest Muslim population in the world.

A protester threw a Molotov cocktail from a van at the embassy early on Sunday.