On behalf of the membership of ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights, who hail from legislatures across Southeast Asia, I am alarmed by the latest developments in northern Rakhine State in Myanmar, which has seen a dramatic escalation of violence and a heightened risk of atrocities.
These events come on the heels of yesterday’s release of the final report by the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, headed by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, which outlines a series of strong, common sense recommendations that the government can take to deescalate tensions, resolve grievances, and promote sustainable peace and prosperity in Rakhine State.
The events of the past 24 hours cast in stark relief the urgent need to take immediate measures to deescalate conflict and chart a path toward long-term peace, and the recommendations delivered to the government by the Commission are an ideal place to start. The latest developments reinforce the need, emphasized the Commission’s report, for the government and security forces to act to ensure that basic human rights, including freedom of movement and access to basic services, are afforded to all people in Rakhine State, and that accountability exists for human rights violations.
The loss of any and all life is a tragedy, and, as lawmakers, we categorically renounce the use of violence, especially against civilians, who remain at serious risk. The Myanmar government has a responsibility to protect all civilians, and the ASEAN region, as well as the broader international community, must actively aid in achieving that goal.
The Rakhine Commission report specifically notes the need to “find regional solutions to complement Myanmar’s domestic efforts” to resolve the situation in Rakhine State. It has become increasingly clear that this situation represents a regional problem, which ASEAN and its member governments must address head on.
Hon. Charles Santiago (MP, Malaysia)
Chairperson, ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR)
On behalf of the membership of APHR