Malaysian general: ISIL could exploit Rohingya crisis

Pushes Myanmar gov't to resolve situation in western Rakhine in which anything between 91 and 400 people have been killed

Malaysian general: ISIL could exploit Rohingya crisis

World Bulletin / News Desk

Malaysia's defense force chief says he has warned his Myanmar counterpart that violence against Rohingya could be exploited by ISIL militants for propaganda purposes.

A statement released by the defense force on Thursday said that in a recent meeting, the Malaysian general had pushed Myanmar's government to resolve a situation in western Rakhine State in which anything between 91 and 400 people have been killed.

"Gen. Zulkifeli Mohd Zin told Gen. Ming Aung Hlaing that if it is not handled well and with wisdom, it could create a situation which will be exploited by ISIL to expand its influence and power in the Southeast Asian region," the statement said.

Zin's visit to Myanmar on Monday was part of a farewell tour of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states before he retires in January 2017.

The statement added that Zin had also pushed for greater cooperation between Southeast Asian countries to tackle the growing influence of ISIL in the region.

To-date, some 90 Malaysians have been identified as being involved with ISIL in Syria, and more than than 230 terror suspects have been detained in the country since 2013, including 200 locals.

Fellow ASEAN member the Philippines has long battled Deash-affiliated militants in its south -- although the relationship was only officially recognized last month -- while a variety of Indonesian terror groups have claimed ISIL affiliation.

Since the Oct. 9 deaths of nine Myanmar border police officials in northern Rakhine, Rohingya advocacy groups claim around 400 Rohingya have been killed in military operations, while Myanmar says 91 people -- 17 soldiers and 74 alleged "attackers" (including four who died during interrogation) -- have been killed.

Malaysia has heavily criticized Myanmar’s government and military over the violence, with Prime Minister Najib Razak and his cabinet referring to it as "genocide” or “ethnic cleansing".

Myanmar subsequently accused Malaysia of meddling in its internal affairs.

Last Thursday, the deputy director general of the Myanmar President’s Office stated that the principles of ASEAN prohibited members from interfering in each other’s internal affairs.

The statement came prior to a Razak-led rally -- which included thousands of Rohingya, many of them refugees -- to firmly tell Myanmar’s State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi -- a Nobel Peace laureate -- "that enough is enough".

“We will call on the Malaysian ambassador regarding the protest and to ask if the Malaysian prime minister is participating. If so, we will monitor the event,” Zaw Htay told local media.

During the Dec. 4 rally, Razak said he had asked his foreign minister to immediately meet Suu Kyi to find a resolution to the issue "but she rejected it immediately”.

“She told my minister that she was willing to meet on Malaysia and Myanmar bilateral issues but not on Rohingya."

Razak also accused Myanmar’s government of having "warned" him about organizing the rally, but stressed that the Malaysian government is “not afraid of such diplomatic pressures”.

Humanitarian outfits have called for an independent probe into the initial attacks in Rakhine, the ongoing operations and reported rapes and rights abuses of Rohingya, as with the area placed under military lockdown, rights groups and international reporters have been unable to enter.

Last Mod: 09 Aralık 2016, 00:58
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