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ASEAN summit should come forward to save Rohingya Muslims

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THE three-day ASEAN summit started Sunday in the Philippines capital Manila is mainly scheduled to discuss how to cool tension over South China Sea, Rohingya issue and rise of radicalism and extremism in the region. Regional security takes back ASEAN to its roots as it was set up as a shield during Vietnam War. 

Media reports said Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razzaq will take up the Rohingya issue to bring pressure on Myanmar to end the persecution of Rohingya Muslims and take back the refugees. We don't believe all Buddhist countries in the region - nine in all - will shelter Myanmar's criminal act and look at it as a humanitarian cause.

It is regrettable that China, Russia and India are supporting Myanmar military while others have not spoken so far. We must say China and Russia must change their policies and others should come to Rohingyas' help. The ASEAN summit is a big opportunity to take a serious look at the plight of the helpless Muslims.
Philippines President Mr Rodrigo Duterte, who is hosting the summit, however looks at using the summit to create a kind of coalition to fight radicalism and threat from Moro Islamist group fighting for independence. His troops had to fight several months recently to free a coastal town from the occupation of the rebels

But analysts believe such issue will not overshadow the Rohingya issue as Myanmar is desperately trying to depict them as radical Islamists to hide the crime of its military. Unlike Moros, Rohingyas are butchered and their villages torched to permanently oust them from their ancestral land. Over one million now live in refugee camps in Bangladesh in inhuman condition.

Myanmar is obviously a colonial power which occupied Arakan State now Rakhine two and a half century ago and now they are uprooting the Muslim population out of hatred to make the country a purely Buddhist religion state. 

For Bangladesh, Myanmar has waged a direct war against us while it is shooting its people and pushing them across the border. Myanmar is acting in flagrant violation of international law and people's inalienable right to their own land.
We must say Myanmar can't be allowed to mislead the regional leaders and observer countries taking part in the summit. We believe it is the responsibility of the ASEAN leaders to come to their protection as an endangered people within ASEAN bloc. No country can expel its minority using state power. 

The fact is that Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi is using all her power and influence as member of the ASEAN bloc to avoid any pressure on her way to final solution of ethnic Muslims problems. She arrived in Manila one day before the summit to lobby and blackmail other leaders.

But Bangladesh has no such presence. It should have deployed skilled diplomats to lobby over the issue in the sideline. We can't sleep and only wait to see that the UN and others will help us unless we take proactive diplomatic moves to translate positive world opinion into action against Myanmar.

Even Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is visiting Manila this time to take part in the ASEAN -India and East Asia summit. He is also scheduled to take part in another Quadrilateral summit comprising India, USA, Japan and Australia; which is focused on facing China's growing assertiveness in the region. Bangladesh's absence from such forums is painstaking and failure to exploit the occasion is unpardonable.

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