ASEAN leaders must urgently respond to the escalating crisis situation for Rohingya Muslims and other vulnerable minorities in Myanmar, ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) said on April 22 in a public call on regional governments on the eve of the 26th ASEAN Summit.
In an open letter to ASEAN heads of state, the collective of parliamentarians called for greater recognition of the serious threat the continued persecution of the Rohingya minority represents not only to Myanmar, but to all of ASEAN. APHR also called for an independent investigation into the growing crisis and the deployment of ASEAN monitors in the lead up to elections scheduled for later this year.
“The growing risk of atrocity crimes in Myanmar represents a direct threat to ASEAN nations, both because of the security risks and economic strains it poses for all ASEAN member states, and because it undermines our shared commitment to protecting all people from persecution and violence,” said Charles Santiago, APHR’s Chairperson and a member of the Malaysian Parliament, in the organisation’s press release.
“We are standing on the precipice of a great tragedy. ASEAN as a grouping as well as individual national leaders have the responsibility, both morally and under international law, to act to prevent atrocity crimes and crimes against humanity from taking place.”
APHR MPs travelled in early April to Myanmar to see the situation first hand and said they were alarmed by the proliferation of hate speech and extremist language that the state is turning a blind eye to.