Bangkok, Sep 5 (IANS) Indonesia on Monday asked Mymnamar to protect its Rohingya Muslim minority even as protests continued in the archipelago nation over their persecution and a radical Sunni group engaged in sectarian violence in the country opened registration to send volunteers to Myanmar to defend them.
Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi met her Myanmar counterpart and de facto head of the country’s government, Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and the head of the country’s armed forces Min Aung Hlaing at Naypyidaw on Monday and urged the protection of the Rohingya community.
Marsudi told Suu Kyi that in order to check the crisis, the Myanmar security forces should act with restraint, protect civilians without discrimination on religion or ethnicity and allow humanitarian aid, reported Efe, citing Indonesia’s Antara agency which quoted official sources about what transpired at the meeting.
Marsudi asked Myanmar to allow Indonesia, the International Red Cross and other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to provide humanitarian aid to the Rohingyas.
Meanwhile, hundreds of Indonesians, mainly women, staged protests outside the Myanmar embassy in Jakarta on Monday, demanding an end to the persecution of Rohingyas by the country’s security forces in response to an attack by Rohingya insurgents on August 25 in the Rakhine state.
The demonstrations took place a day after protesters threw a Molotov cocktail at the embassy.
Also, the chairman of a branch of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), Suyadi Al Abu Fatih, said that the volunteers should preferably be aged between 21 and 40 years, and they can get the registration form from a post in Klaten or download it from the group’s Facebook page, reported Efe quoting Indonesian media Tempo.
Suyadi said that the volunteers are to be trained by the organisation, founded in Indonesia in 1998, before traveling to Myanmar, but warned that they would need to bear the cost of travel and daily living once they reached their destination.
On Tuesday, Marsudi is scheduled to travel to Bangladesh to discuss the matter with the country’s authorities.
At least 87,000 Rohingyas have entered Bangladesh in the last 10 days, 81,000 of whom were staying in makeshift shelters, a UN official in Bangladesh told Efe on Monday.
The remaining 6,000 have been settling with relatives in the permanent refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar district.
On August 25, the Myanmar Army began an operation following armed assaults on several police posts by hundreds of Rohingya insurgents under the command of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army.
In October 2016, the ARSA killed nine police officers in attacks against three border posts, which led to a violent military operation.
The UN and other organisations strongly condemned the military campaign, accusing the armed forces of committing various abuses against civilians, including murder, rape and burning houses.
At least 74,000 Rohingyas fled to Bangladesh as a result of the campaign.
More than one million Rohingyas live in the western state of Rakhine, where they face growing discrimination due to the sectarian conflict, which left at least 160 people dead in 2012 and displaced nearly 120,000.
Myanmar authorities deny citizenship to Rohingyas, classifying them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and imposing many restrictions on them, including limits to their freedom of movement.