Myanmar unrest could destabilise wider region: ASEAN

Source: The Hindu

Jakarta, Oct 30:  ASEAN Secretary General Surin Pitsuwan has warned that sectarian bloodshed in Myanmar could radicalise minority Rohingya Muslims there and destabilise the whole of Southeast Asia.

Surin called on the international community to help after clashes in the western state of Rakhine between Muslims and Buddhists this month killed at least 88 people and displaced more than 26,000.

The Rohingya in Myanmar face “tremendous pressure, pain and suffering”, the Jakarta Post on Tuesday quoted Southeast Asia’s top diplomat as saying at a human rights dialogue in the Indonesian capital.

“If the international community, including ASEAN, are not able to relieve that pressure and pain (the Rohingya) could become radicalised and the entire region could be destabilised, including the Malacca Straits,” Surin said.

The Malacca Straits are the main shipping lane between the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

ASEAN is in a position to offer humanitarian aid to Myanmar, he said, as it did after Cyclone Nargis hit the country in 2008, killing 138,000.

“Let’s see what we can do to relieve them from poverty, shortages of food, shelter and sanitation,” added the head of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which includes Myanmar

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