Indonesia ready to help resolve Rohingya issue: Widodo

By Adem Salvarcioglu

ANKARA (AA) – Indonesia and the Association of Southeastern Asian Nations (ASEAN) are ready to help resolve Rohingya issue, the country’s president said on Thursday.

"Indonesia is ready! I am sure, the ASEAN is also ready to help the Myanmar government to create a conducive condition in the Rakhine State, where freedom of movement should be respected," Indonesia’s Antara news agency quoted Joko Widodo as saying.

Widodo’s remarks came after a meeting with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on the sidelines of the 33rd ASEAN Summit in Singapore.

Meanwhile, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsui, who also attended the meeting, said: “We conveyed that we need U.S. support for the AHA Center [ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management], so that we can carry out tasks or mandates given by ASEAN leaders to play a role in Rakhine State.”

Earlier, Bangladeshi government halted the first scheduled Rohingya repatriation to Myanmar following protests by the refugees.

The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.

Since Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).

More than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others were beaten, said the OIDA report, titled "Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience."

Some 18,000 Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar’s army and police and over 115,000 Rohingya homes were burned down and 113,000 others vandalized, it added.

According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly children, and women, fled Myanmar and crossed into neighboring Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017.

The UN has documented mass gang rapes, killings — including of infants and young children — brutal beatings, and disappearances committed by Myanmar state forces. In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.

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