PETALING JAYA: Although Asean does not interfere in the internal matters of its member states, it should find a way to address the issue of persecution against Muslims in Myanmar said the President of the International Movement for a Just World (JUST) Dr Chandra Muzaffar.
He explained that the Asean, which was formed in 1967 has a policy of non-interference, making it difficult for them to take strong positions with regards to injustices.
“This goes to show that the policy of non-interference has drawbacks.
“There must be some way of recognising the sovereignty of individual states that make up Asean but at the same time address issues that concern justice and humanity,” he told the Star Online.
Angry Buddhist mobs targeted Muslims in Mandalay last week, the latest in sectarian violence in the Buddhist-majority nation.
The violence sparked off when a group of about 300 Buddhists attacked a teashop owned by a Muslim man accused of raping a Buddhist woman.
“If you see what has been happening in the past, there’s a pattern of targeting Muslim minorities especially the Rohingya. It has been going on for a while now,” said Dr Chandra.
Since June 2012, an estimated 240 people have been killed and another 140000 people displaced because of the violence. Most of the victims have been Muslim.
Muslims make up about 5% of the 60 million people in Myanmar.
Dr Chandra believed the violence could have been orchestrated because of the looming elections in the country next year.
“The military is worried about their grip in the country and has chosen to whip up ethnic and religious sentiments to maintain their power.
“They give the impression that Buddhism is under threat from Islam and supporting them is the only way their identity can be protected,” he said adding that we should not allow that sort of thing to happen in Malaysia.
Dr Chandra also warned that clashes in Myanmar could affect Malaysia, pointing to a plot to bomb the Myanmar embassy in Jakarta last year.
Clashes involving Buddhist and Muslim Myanmar nationals were reported in Klang Valley last year, resulting in several deaths.
There are an estimated 400,000 Myanmar nationals in Malaysia.
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