Migrants challenge ASEAN to save the Rohingya at sea, immediately resolve the crisis

A vision of doom for the Rohingya people, for the trafficked peoples? Is this the vision of the ASEAN?

The International Migrants Alliance (IMA) strongly criticizes all member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for continuing to delay the much needed response and action on the ongoing crisis besetting the Rohingya people currently stranded at sea. Condemnation in the strongest terms goes to the governments of Malaysia and Indonesia for outrightly refusing entry and refuge to the stranded Rohingya.

While a thousand Rohingya people, with some Bangladeshis, have been offered refuge in the island of Aceh, thousands more are feared to be left at sea, without proper food, clean water or protection.

We raise the alarm as news reports come of bad detention camps and migrant graves being discovered along the Thailand-Malaysia border. As crackdowns are undertaken specifically by the Thai authorities on 300+ suspected traffickers, the situation of the Rohingya people is left unattended.

The Rohingya crisis is not an issue of a border crisis or a national security issue. It is a human rights issue, a peoples’ issue, an ASEAN concern and responsibility.

We condemn the Myanmar government for continuing to aggravate the situation by shunning the Rohingya people, treating them as illegal migrants, as less than humans. We condemn the Malaysia and Thailand governments for refusing entry to the stranded-at-sea Rohingya. Equally worthy of condemnation are the other members of the ASEAN who are not lifting a finger to even assist the Rohingya.

What’s the business of the ASEAN if not attend to the people most in need, in this case the Rohingya? Is this the vision, identity, the community they want to make and project to the world – that they are anti-Rohingya, numb to the needs of the people in distress but welcoming to business interests as in their vision of the ASEAN Economic Community?

We challenge the ASEAN to take action now. Bring the Rohingya and all stranded-at-sea to the land, provide them with necessary sustenance, assistance and protection, and address the Rohingya crisis immediately by recognizing and following international laws and conventions that shall truly benefit the Rohingya and not leave them at bay – to die.

As we say this, the IMA calls on all its members and friends around the world to drumbeat the campaign to save the Rohingya from an imminent yet avoidable disaster and bring to justice those who are truly responsible for this – from the traffickers to governments.

For reference: Eni Lestari, chairperson

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