23 April 2018 – The Indonesian and Malaysian Representatives to the AICHR have called on Leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to urgently identify more effective measures and practical steps to fulfil ASEAN’s commitment to bring peace and the rule of law, and to promote harmony and reconciliation between the various communities of different backgrounds, ethnicities and religions in Myanmar. Such action is critical to strengthen human security and stabilise the region.
The call comes after boats ferrying refugees, mostly women and children, originating from Rakhine State were intercepted by several ASEAN Member States on the 3rd, 6th and 20th of April 2018. There were reportedly others who were not so fortunate to have survived the journey. More boats from Rakhine State are expected to make their way to neighbouring countries in the coming months.
The Representatives noted that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) have been assisting survivors of human trafficking and smuggling across the region. They have also identified the increasing vulnerabilities of communities in Myanmar given the perceived erosion in the rule of law and the disruption of fundamental social and economic systems. Reports on the planned repatriation of refugees from Bangladesh back to Myanmar have also raised concerns over possible further violence given that there have been no visible effective steps to address the root causes of the crises in Rakhine State.