07/21/2016, 12.59
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Malaysian activists call on Aung San Suu Kyi to meet Rohingya refugees

by Joseph Masilamany

Aegile Fernandez, co-director of Tenaganita, challenges the Burmese foreign minister. A face-to-face with a group of the Muslim minority refugees to hear "their version of the story." And "the best opportunity" for clarifying the position of the government in the dispute between Rohingya and Burmese Buddhists.

Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews) - Aung San Suu Kyi is set to visit Malaysia in August and a local activist group, the Tenaganita movement is calling on her as the Burmese Foreign Minister to meet with a group of Rohingya refugees, the  Muslim minority persecuted in Myanmar.

Reached by Free Malaysia Today Aegile Fernandez, co-director of Tenaganita, points out that the NGO is available to arrange a face-to-face meeting between the Nobel Peace Laureate and a group of Rohingya refugees. "It would be wonderful - she added - because they could tell their side of the story".

In the past, Aung San Suu Kyi, icon of human rights and democracy in Myanmar, has been heavily criticized for failing to come to the defense of the Muslim minority. Recently, during a meeting with the UN special representative on human rights, the NLD leaders said they did not want to even use the term "Rohingya" because it is considered a source of controversy in the Asian country.

The Malaysian activist says a meeting between the Foreign Minister and a group of refugees - in addition to the one already on the calendar with some Burmese migrant workers - would be "the best opportunity" to "clear positions" in the dispute between the Buddhist majority and Muslim minority.

"For a long time the international community - adds Fernandez – has been waiting for her to act". It is important, concludes the co-director of Tenaganita, to clarify the matter because even the Rohingya "are part of Myanmar" in spite of the lack of recognition of their status and "the government has no right to expel them".

Meanwhile, government spokesman U Zaw Htay announced the forthcoming signing of two bilateral agreements on migrant workers in the context of the visit of Aung San Suu Kyi to Malaysia. To date in the Asian country with a Muslim majority there are between 500 thousand and the 700 thousand migrant workers from Myanmar, most of them without proper documents.

Official estimates indicate that in 2015, there were 371 members of the Myanmar Muslim minority given assylum in Malaysia, of which only 36 were transferred to the United States at a later date. All others still live in refugee camps.

According to data of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) there are more 53 thousand Rohingya registered as refugees in Malaysia.

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