Rohingya refugee crisis: Address Rohingya crisis at APEC, ASEAN meets
12:00 AM, November 10, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:26 AM, November 10, 2017

Address Rohingya crisis at APEC, ASEAN meets

Rights body urges world leaders

Human Rights Watch has called on world leaders meeting in two summits in the Philippines and Vietnam to address the Rohingya crisis.

Heads of government from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), including the United States, China, Japan, Russia, Canada, Australia, and Mexico, would be meeting in Da Nang, Vietnam, today.

Leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) would be meeting in Manila, Philippines, on Sunday for the 31st Asean Leaders Summit. They were scheduled to hold side-summits, with the US, European Union, Japan, and South Korea, on November 13-14.

“The Rohingya crisis is among the worst human rights catastrophes in Asia in years and demands concerted global action,” said Brad Adams, Asia director of Human Rights Watch.

“World leaders shouldn't return home from these summits without agreeing to targeted sanctions to pressure Burma [Myanmar] to end its abuses and allow in independent observers and aid groups.”

HRW said leaders at the Asia summits should jointly call on the Myanmar government to allow access to northern Rakhine State by the UN fact-finding mission created by the Human Rights Council in 2016, as well as other UN human rights and humanitarian staff.

Meanwhile, foreign ministry officials in Dhaka expects that the ongoing humanitarian crisis would expose Myanmar to more diplomatic pressure, at least from world leaders, including the US, during the three summits hosted by Vietnam and the Philippines.

They said it would not be possible to get Myanmar to resolve the crisis without continuing pressure on the country.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres would be attending parts of the Asean and related summits in the Philippines while Myanmar de facto leader Suu Kyi would be meeting Asean leader in the Philippines after the APEC summit.

According to the HRW, the UN Security Council "should impose an arms embargo and targeted economic sanctions and travel bans on military officials implicated in the  atrocities".

The council should now take more meaningful action, but in the meantime governments concerned, especially those in Asia, could take coordinated bilateral or multilateral action to impose targeted sanctions and travel bans, the rights group added.

Leaders gathering in Asia should also discuss the creation of judicial mechanisms to hold perpetrators of abuses in Myanmar accountable, including via the General Assembly and Human Rights Council. The Security Council should refer the situation in Myanmar to the International Criminal Court.

“The International Criminal Court was created precisely to deal with crimes against humanity like those being committed in Burma,” Adams said. “Members of the Security Council attending the Asia summits should be discussing referring the situation in Burma to The Hague.”

Meanwhile, the Philippine Daily Inquirer in an editorial titled “Asean has an obvious role in Rohingya crisis” said representatives of the platform need to address the crisis in Myanmar's Rakhine state at its root causes.

Among the 10 member-countries of Asean, only Malaysia had displayed courage, it said.


Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was scheduled to hold a bilateral meeting with Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi at the APEC summit in Vietnam, according to a report of Canadian Press.

This would be their first meeting since a crackdown by security forces that began on August 25 and has forced Rohingyas to take shelter in Bangladesh.

About 200 entered Bangladesh just yesterday morning.

Last night, the UNB reported citing the UN Migration Agency that the number of new arrivals from Myanmar's Rakhine State now stands at 613,000.

Bob Rae, Canada's special envoy for the Rohingya crisis, is scheduled to brief Trudeau on his findings in Myanmar at the APEC leaders' summit. Rae is also expected to use the 21-member APEC event to meet other regional players to push for a co-ordinated solution to the crisis.

Trudeau had said that he reached out to Suu Kyi about the atrocities being committed against the Rohingya.

Meanwhile, the Liberal government has come under pressure to strip Suu Kyi of her honorary Canadian citizenship.

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