Foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Wednesday stressed the importance of non-militarization in the South China Sea.
"We reaffirmed the importance of maintaining and promoting peace, security, stability, safety and freedom of navigation in and overflight above the South China Sea and recognized the benefits of having the South China Sea as a sea of peace, stability and prosperity,” a joint communique of the 52nd ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ meeting said.
A few ASEAN members expressed concerns on land reclamation activities in the South China sea.
The meeting held in Bangkok, Thailand also discussed the Rohingya refugee crisis and denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.
The attendees asked the Myanmar representative to brief them on the humanitarian situation in Rakhine State, where the UN and other international rights group have expressed alarm over an ongoing genocide against the Rohingya Muslim minority by the Myanmar state forces.
“We reaffirmed our support for a more visible and enhanced role of ASEAN to support Myanmar in providing humanitarian assistance, facilitating the repatriation process and promoting sustainable development,” the statement added.
"[We] reiterated our continued support for Myanmar’s commitment to ensure safety and security for all communities in Rakhine State as effectively as possible and facilitate the voluntary return of displaced persons in a safe, secure and dignified manner,” it said, without naming the Rohingya.
The South Asian foreign ministers "stressed the importance of and reiterated our continued support for Myanmar’s commitment to ensure safety and security for all communities in Rakhine State as effectively as possible and facilitate the voluntary return of displaced persons in a safe, secure and dignified manner."
They also expressed their expectations that a Myanmar government-run enquiry commision "would seek accountability by carrying out an independent and impartial investigation into alleged human rights violations and related issues."
"We stressed the need to find a comprehensive and durable solution to address the root causes of the conflict and to create a conducive environment so that the affected communities can rebuild their lives," the statement read.
The UN has described Rohingya as the world's most persecuted people who have faced heightened fears of attack since hundreds were killed in communal violence in 2012.
More than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women, and children have fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017.
The member states stressed the need for continued peaceful dialogue among all parties to “realize lasting peace and stability in a denuclearized” Korean Peninsula.
By Riyaz ul Khaliq