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Rohingya plight could lead to radicalisation: Asean
By Manolo B. Jara November 10, 2017
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MANILA: Defence ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) have expressed their deep concern over the plight of the Rohingya refugees in Myanmar, warning they could be easy prey to “radical” ideas through their possible recruitment by terrorists.

In this light, Philippine Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana pointed out his fellow Asean defense chiefs urged Myanmar (Burma) to “do more” to resolve the issue to help stop the problem of terrorism confronting the region.

“The consensus was for Myanmar to

resolve the issue,” Lorenzana told the Asean Leadership Amid a New World Order forum in suburban Makati City, Metro Manila on Wednesday.

“The concern of Asean,” Lorenzana said, “is that the refugees might find their way in some terrorist camps and train, and then they help train the other camps in the region, and it will become a problem.”

In his speech, Lorenzana quoted Myanmar Defence Minister Sein Wein as saying that, “they are not actually trying to drive these people (Rohingya) away but are just trying to prevent the influx of other people coming from Bangladesh.”

Wein’s stand was apparently in response to claims by the UN and international human rights advocates that the plight of the Rohingyas, who are Muslims, was allegedly due to “ethnic cleansing.”

Reports are that at least 600,000 Rohingyas have been forced to flee from the Myanmar state of Rakhine especially to neighbouring Bangladesh, with Myanmar insisting its security forces were fighting terrorists who have killed civilians and burned villages.

In addition, Lorenzana said some 200,000 more have fled to Malaysia while others found their way to Thailand and a Gulf country.

Lorenzana said the plight of the Rohingyas was among the major issues tackled by Asean defence ministers and their counterparts from the group’s “dialogue” partners from the US, China, Australia, Japan, India, New Zealand, South Korea and Russia.

Also tackled during the meeting hosted by the Philippines, Lorenzana said, were North Korea’s controversial nuclear weapons programme, terrorism, climate change and natural disasters.

The Philippines is the chairman for 2017 of Asean which is observing its golden or 50th founding anniversary whose members also include Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia.

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