Naypyidaw, 12 Shaban 1436/30 May 2015 (MINA) – The United Nations (UN)’s refugee agency has slammed Myanmar for imposing restrictions on the “basic freedoms” of its persecuted Rohingya community, urging Naypyidaw to grant citizenship to the country’s Muslim minority.
Addressing a Friday summit in Bangkok, Thailand, on ways to tackle the migrant crisis in Southeast Asia, Volker Türk, a senior official with the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said the issue could not be resolved unless the “root causes” are addressed.
“This requires full assumption of responsibility by Myanmar towards all people on its territory. Granting of citizenship is the ultimate goal,” said the UN official. Press TV reports as quoted by Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA).
Türk also stressed the urgent need for “a legal status for all habitual residents recognizing that Myanmar is their own country,” adding that “access to identity documentation and the removal of restrictions on basic freedoms is needed to normalize and stabilize lives.”
However, the representatives of Myanmar at the meeting harshly criticized the UN and the international community for branding the country as the root cause of the migrant crisis involving Rohingya Muslims.
“This issue of illegal immigration of boat people, you cannot single out my country,” Htin Lynn, a diplomat from Myanmar, told the UN-sponsored meeting, which was attended by delegates from more than 20 nations.
Htin Lynn claimed that the international community has been misinformed about the real motives behind the exodus of Rohingya Muslims, saying that the way Myanmar’s government treats the members of the ethnic minority group falls within “domestic jurisdiction.”
Several hundred people are believed to have died at sea over the past weeks as more than 25,000 people flee persecution in Myanmar and Bangladesh by traveling on boats.
Late on Thursday, Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on the participants of the Friday summit in Bangkok to put more pressure on Myanmar’s government over its mistreatment of Rohingya Muslims.
HRW also branded the government of Myanmar as the “main source of the problem,” urging it to provide basic health, education, and other services for Rohingya.
The migrant crisis began when a crackdown by Thai authorities on human-smuggling camps scared traffickers into abandoning their boats. Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia then began turning boats away, leaving thousands in dangerous conditions.
Recently, graves have been found in Malaysia, where the remains of Rohingya migrants are believed to have been buried under yet unknown circumstances. (T/P002/R04)
Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)