By Jaiden Coonan
Days before ASEAN leaders meet in Malaysia, a report has been released by the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) stating that the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar has all the signs of genocide.
It claims that the longstanding persecution of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar has led to the highest outflow of asylum seekers by sea since the U.S. war in Vietnam.
Charles Santiago - chair of the APHR, and a Malaysian parliamentarian - described the issue to the Myanmar Times on Thursday as “clearly not just an internal affair."
"This is an issue that affects all of ASEAN, from Thailand to Malaysia to Indonesia,” he said. “Invoking the ‘non-interference’ policy in [a] situation that paves the way for genocide and crimes against humanity has no logic and undermines ASEAN’s very existence.”
The report highlights Myanmar’s continual denials of the ethnic group, its constant reference to the population as "Bengali," and its accusation that they are illegal immigrants.
There are roughly 140,000 Rohingya living in IDP camps since an outbreak of violence between the ethnic Arakanese Buddhists and Rohingya in 2012.
The majority of the camps are in squalid conditions and the population relies heavily on international assistance to survive.
During its turn as chair of ASEAN, Myanmar managed to keep the Rohingya issue off the agenda by declaring it an internal issue.
But with the conference due to start in majority Muslim Malaysia on Monday, many rights groups are hoping that Kuala Lumpur will ramp up the pressure.
The 26th ASEAN Summit will run from April 24 to 27.