Mahathir for stronger int’l engagement
12:00 AM, September 26, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:44 AM, September 26, 2019

We need to end crisis now

Says Mahathir at UN

Mentioning that the Myanmar government is unwilling to resolve the Rohingya crisis, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has said it is up to the international community to do something about it.

He urged other countries to join Bangladesh and Malaysia in their resolve to end the miseries that have befallen the Rohingyas. “We need to put an end to the crisis and we need to do it now.”

Mahathir was addressing the high-level side event on Situation of Rohingya Minority in Myanmar at a conference room of the UN headquarters on Tuesday. The programme was jointly organised by the Permanent Mission of Bangladesh to the UN and the OIC secretariat.

For a start, the UN should play its role in taking into account that it was established in hopes of preventing future human made miseries, Mahathir said.

Without the UN Security Council’s action, others must do their part to resolve the crisis and bring the perpetrators to justice, the Malaysian PM said.

“Malaysia will continue to insist that the repatriation be done in a safe, voluntary and dignified manner. This can only be done by granting full citizenship to the Rohingyas.”

The situation in Myanmar is not any better and many Rohingyas have become internally-displaced persons (IDPs) languishing in camps in Rakhaine.

“When the world likened the IDP camps to those notorious concentration camps of the past, the Myanmar government had been quick to deny.” 

Yet the Myanmar authorities have denied some UN officials and humanitarian aid workers access, Mahathir said.

“If Myanmar has nothing to hide, then why it bars others from seeing the situation in Rakhine? Let these officials and aid workers visit, inspect and assist those living in the camps. Myanmar should demonstrate that it is serious about alleviating the crisis.”

He mentioned that two attempts were made to repatriate some of the refugees, but both failed. “Reasons for these are obvious. No one would return if they do not feel that their safety is guaranteed.”

He said the Myanmar authorities had manipulated the Rohingya issue to incite fear, hatred and violence. “Thus, merely considering the idea of granting citizenship is unacceptable. It is obvious that Myanmar’s attempt on ensuring accountability has failed. How would such an attempt work if the perpetrators responsible for the atrocities are part of the system?”

Mahathir lauded the positive efforts of the OIC in addressing the Rohingya issue at the international fora. “And for the decision to bring the matter to the International Court of Justice, we hope other countries would support the OIC to ensure that the perpetrators do not get away with the heinous crimes that they have committed.”

Highlighting Malaysia’s humanitarian assistance for the Rohingyas, he said they would continue helping the Rohingyas.

Terming the atrocities on Rohingyas genocide, he said, “Let’s start by calling a spade a spade. What happened in Rakhine state is genocide.”“What took place were mass killings, systematic rape and other gross violation of human rights. These resulted in Rohingyas fleeing the country en masse -- most ended up in Cox’s Bazar. On this, we commend Bangladesh for all it has done in hosting more than 1.2 million Rohingya refugees,” Mahathir said.

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