Manila, Mar 3 (EFE).- Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim has urged leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to adopt a harder attitude towards Myanmar’s military junta in order to tackle the crisis, according to an interview released Friday.
“We cannot see this purely as an internal issue. (…) I have appealed to some ASEAN friends: ‘Look we have to be tougher’,” Anwar told a local broadcaster during his visit to the Philippines on Wednesday and Thursday.
He added that since the involvement of other forces and countries was unwarranted, ASEAN had to prove that it was relevant and able to solve problems.
However, Ibrahim also stressed that the bloc could not stay silent in the face of human rights violations in Myanmar.
“People are still being killed. Hundreds of thousands are leaving or are forced to leave their villages and houses are being burned,” the PM said, stressing that Malaysia is hosting 200,000 refugees from Myanmar, majority of them Rohingya Muslims.
The Myanmar junta, led by general Min Aung Hlaing, seized power on Feb 1, 2021 and imprisoned the the government’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi, under the pretext that the elections held three months earlier had been fraudulent, even though they were endorsed by international observers.
The coup has pushed the country into a deep economic, political and social crisis along with a spiral of violence which aggravated the existing conflicts with ethnic minorities and triggered another war with the People’s Defense Force, the armed resistance group of the pro-democracy National Unity Government (NUG).
Since the coup, more than 3,000 people have been killed by authorities while 16,100 others remain imprisoned, according to the nonprofit Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP).