KLANG, Feb 19 (Bernama) -- Malaysia urged that the 'criminals' who oppresse the Rohingya ethnic community in Myanmar to be brought immediately to the International Criminal Court (ICC), said Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah.
He said although the matter could take a long time, the Malaysian government is very serious regarding the issue because such oppression had forced the Rohingya ethnic community to become refugees all over the world.
“The Malaysian government is openly adhering to the principle that the (humanitarian) criminals must be punished. The root problem is that the Rohingyas have been driven out from their own country.
“For us, the investigation into the case of Myanmar and the (humanitarian) crime is very important to be resolved from the root of the problem so that the criminals could be dragged to court,” he told reporters after visiting the Rohingya Education Centre (REC) in Klang, today.
He added the information from the Independent International Fact-finding Mission on Myanmar (IIFFMM) reported by the United Nations (UN) last month revealed that six individuals were allegedly involved in the humanitarian crimes against Rohingyas in the country.
Therefore, Saifuddin said, Malaysia wanted to be involved in ensuring the humanitarian 'criminals' were brought to the ICC as soon as possible and the steps taken would be announced later.
In August last year, UN-appointed investigators recommended that Myanmar's top military commanders be brought to justice for an inquiry and be prosecuted as it ‘undoubtedly amounts to the gravest crimes’ against the general public, including genocide, under the international law.
The IIFFMM report has drawn up a list of alleged perpetrators including Myanmar’s Commander-in-Chief Senior-General Min Aung Hlaing and five other military commanders.
Meanwhile, Saifuddin said, for the time being, Malaysia will still adhere to its principles to accept the Rohingya refugees as most of them said they were too afraid to return to their home country for safety reasons.
“Our government standpoint is we don’t reject people (Rohingya refugees) coming. On the humanitarian ground, we never send (Rohingya refugee) boats away. We don’t have the capacity to do much more, but we never reject, we want to do more in assisting them.
“We understood the concerns of our own people (about the presence of the Rohingyas) but we do not have the heart to send them back to Myanmar just like that. The majority of them want to return, but for the time being, they feel unsafe to go back,” he said.
He also believed that if there were social problems related to the ethnic Rohingya in the country such as begging and so on, surely the local authorities had taken the necessary action.
Saifuddin also mentioned, so far, there are 88,880 Rohingyas from all age groups that took shelter in the country and were registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) but some are unregistered and the number is unknown.
He said 25 per cent of them also received educational facilities provided by non-governmental organisations in certain locations.
“For instance, REC educational facilities that were provided by the Jaringan Islam Global Malaysia Association. Although this school does not have the same standard as the Sekolah Kebangsaan (SK), the curriculum used is at par with SK and the personnel of the association has wide experience in terms of school administration and education,” he added.
Apart from the Klang branch, REC which was established since 2006 has three other branches namely in Permatang Pauh, Penang; Kuantan, Pahang; as well as the latest centre in Gombak, which provides primary and secondary education to 724 Rohingya ethnic children.