Rights group urges Indonesia to act on Myanmar

Photo: Screenshot from Reuters video.

A rights group on Thursday urged Indonesia “step up” and act on the Myanmar crisis as chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2023.

“This is an opportunity for Indonesia to step up. We see Indonesia keen to play a greater role in world affairs, successfully chairing the G20 last year,” said Elaine Pearson, director of Human Rights Watch Asia Division, at a news conference on Thursday. “And this year, we urge Indonesia to use the ASEAN chairmanship effectively to resolve the crisis in Myanmar.”

Human Rights Watch in its annual world report also voiced concerns about the “increased fighting between the Myanmar military and Arakan Army ethnic armed group in Rakhine State” that has spilled across the border, which it said will endanger Rohingya refugees and Bangladesh civilians.

“I think it’s also critical that there has to be a recognition that these people are going to continue to come out until there is a solution for the problem that exists in Myanmar and in Bangladesh,” said Phil Robertson, the deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia Division.

Many Rohingya have, for years, fled to neighboring states such as Thailand and Bangladesh, and to Muslim-majority Malaysia and Indonesia, Reuters reported.

According to Reuters report, nearly 1 million Rohingya live in crowded conditions in Bangladesh, including many of the hundreds of thousands who fled a deadly crackdown in 2017 by Myanmar’s military, which denies committing crimes against humanity.