KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has criticised the Myanmar government and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi over the "ethnic cleansing" of the Rohingya community in its Rakhine state during a solidarity rally here Sunday.
Signing a giant banner to protest what he called "ethnic cleansing" of the minority race in Rakhine, Najib said Malaysia would continue to pressure its Asean counterpart to settle the humanitarian crisis.
Najib also called on Indonesia and its President Joko Widodo to stand with Malaysia against Myanmar on the issue.
Myanmar had warned Najib against attending the rally, saying that doing so would breach Asean's policy of non-intervention with neighbouring countries.
"I don't care!" declared Najib to the audience, consisting mostly Umno and PAS members.
"Do you expect me, a leader of over 30 million people to close my eyes? To stay silent? I will not!
"Someone tell Myanmar that the Asean Charter also protects human rights. They cannot just interpret whatever they like.
"What do you expect us to do? We are a community of nations. We need to protect the Rohingya, not because they are of the same religion as us, but because they are humans. Their lives matter," he said.
The premier also took aim at Suu Kyi, criticising her for not meeting with diplomats to discuss the Rohingya crisis.
"Does she really have a Nobel Peace Prize?" he questioned.
Surrounded by members of his Cabinet, Najib also welcomed PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang and the Islamist party's attendance at the rally.
"Yes, we may have different ideologies but when it comes to protecting Islam and the sanctity of Syariah, it isn't a choice. It is mandatory!" he said to a standing ovation from the crowd and politicians on stage.
Najib then called on the audience to stand and pledge to unite political parties in pressuring Myanmar to recognise the Rohingya in Rakhine.
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