KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 3 — National and regional leaders must find the will to stop the mass killings of the Rohingya people in Myanmar, Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah said.
The Sultan of Perak also stressed that considerations such as non-interference and financial concerns should be secondary to the addressing the sectarian crisis in Myanmar.
“We cannot allow fears of upsetting our neighbours; or fear of being accused of interference; or fears of affecting our regional trade and commerce to prevent us from voicing out our anxieties and alarm at what is happening in Rakhine state,” he said at a dinner to raise funds for the Rohingya people this evening.
In his speech, Sultan Nazrin quoted Myanmar’s Nobel Peace Prize laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi who once said, “It is not power that corrupts but fear”.
Quoting Pulitzer-winning journalist Nicholas Kristof, the Sultan also said: “You will be judged in years to come by how you responded to genocide on your watch.”
Reminding listeners of the Cambodian Civil War during the 1970s in which millions of Cambodians died, Sultan Nazrin said the Rohingya crisis was shaping into another similarly deadly and disruptive conflict.
As many as 2.5 million Cambodians are believed to have been killed via the state-sponsored genocide of the Khmer Rouge regime, in addition to the 750,000 slain in the Vietnam War.
“More than 400,000 Rohingyas, or almost a third of their total population of 1.5 million in Rakhine State in Myanmar, have been displaced and live in squalor in makeshift refugee camps.
“Thousands more have been murdered and dumped in rivers and shallow mass graves. Every day, dozens, if not hundreds of them die due to lack of food and medical supplies or drown when their boats sink,” he said.
Rohingyas are a predominantly-Muslim minority living in the Rakhine state of Myanmar. The group is unrecognised by their own country, leaving them stateless and vulnerable to persecution.
Myanmar also stands accused of using its military and police forces against the Rohingyas, which has resulted in a refugee crisis in the region as hundreds of thousands of the ethnic group have fled their country in a bid to escape the sectarian killings.
Malaysia has been outspoken in demanding Myanmar act to defuse the violence against the Rohingyas, going so far as to dispute Asean’s remarks on the crisis.
Over 200,000 Rohingyas are estimated to be in Malaysia, which has also relaxed its maritime security to allow the fleeing group to land and seek refuge here.