News ID: 254702
Published: 0246 GMT June 22, 2019

Malaysia calls for ‘justice’, citizenship for Rohingya Muslims

Malaysia calls for ‘justice’, citizenship for Rohingya Muslims

Malaysia on Saturday said the perpetrators of violence against Myanmar's Rohingya minority must "be brought to justice", in sharp comments delivered at a normally tame regional summit.

Myanmar does not recognize the Rohingya as citizens, instead officially labeling them "Bengalis", shorthand for illegal immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh.

A military crackdown in 2017 drove more than 740,000 Rohingya into Bangladesh, carrying accounts of rape, mass killings and the razing of villages, AFP reported.

They joined another 300,000 Rohingya already living in overcrowded camps in the Cox's Bazar area following previous bouts of violence.

Thousands of refugees attempt to flee the camps each year in pursuit of better opportunities in countries such as Malaysia and Thailand.

UN investigators have called for Myanmar's top generals to be tried for genocide.

In talks Saturday with Southeast Asian counterparts, Malaysia's Foreign Minister Saifuddin bin Abdullah called for the "perpetrators of the Rohingya issue to be brought to justice", his ministry said in Tweet.

He also said repatriation of the minority from the fetid, overcrowded refugee camps of Bangladesh "must include the citizenship of the Rohingya."

Malaysia, a Muslim country which hosts a large Rohingya refugee population, is one of the few members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to speak up for the minority.

The 10-member bloc normally abides by a principle of noninterference in each other's internal affairs.

ASEAN was heavily criticized by rights groups after a report it commissioned lauded Myanmar's work on the repatriation issue.

Rakhine state, the western region home to the Rohingya, remains cut by violence.


Only a handful of the Muslim minority have returned under a discredited repatriation deal.

Myanmar has not offered citizenship to the mass of Rohingya in Bangladesh's camps should they return, while the minority also want safety guarantees and restitution of seized lands and torched villages before agreeing to go back.


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