By Charles Santiago
The Myanmar military has resorted to carrying out deadlier attacks than last October, following retaliation from Rohingya militants who say they are responding to the ongoing persecution against the Rohingya by the military.
According to reports, 77 Rohingya and 12 members of the security forces have been killed.
Some unverified reports also say that the military has armed Rakhine Buddhists, a claim that could see Myanmar descend into a civil war, if true.
We are, however, already seeing photographs and video clips of butchered Rohingya and villages being burned.
There are also eyewitness accounts from Maungdaw, saying that the Myanmar military have entered villages and are burning homes and properties and shooting people dead.
It’s clear that the Myanmar security forces don’t care two hoots about respecting the rule of law and protecting human rights and the fundamental freedom of civilians, even if it has to curb attacks from militants.
While the strongly-worded response from United Nations secretary-general António Guterres expressing concern about escalating tensions in the region is welcome, it’s now time for Asean to intervene.
It’s time for member countries to shelf the archaic non-interference policy and warn Myanmar to stop the killings.
It would be tempting for even countries like Malaysia and Indonesia, which have condemned the persecution against the Rohingya before, not to push any harder.
Or for other Asean countries to focus on their internal problems.
And of course for some members to buy into State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi’s ridiculous claims that the Rohingya are burning their own homes.
But the violence perpetrated by the Myanmar military has huge consequences for the region.
This new cycle of violence and killings – dubbed the last stages of genocide – would not just wipe out the Rohingya from Myanmar but also force thousands to flee, giving rise to more incidents of trafficking, corruption involving high-ranking officials and crime.
Not to mention the blood on our hands if we make no effort to stop the massacre of the Rohingya now.
Charles Santiago is Klang MP
The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.