| KUALA LUMPUR
KUALA LUMPUR Feb 3 Malaysian Prime Minister
Najib Razak on Friday sent off a ship carrying tonnes of food
and emergency supplies to Myanmar's Rohingya Muslims, saying
their suffering would not be ignored.
Najib has been an outspoken critic of the treatment of
predominantly Buddhist Myanmar's Muslim Rohingya minority,
calling on the government to stop attacks.
The Myanmar government, led by Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung
San Suu Kyi, has denied the accusations, saying many reports of
violence against Rohingya are fabricated. It insists strife in
Rakhine State, where many Rohingya live, is an internal matter.
"This is a historic moment ... a noble effort that shows
that all the pain and suffering of Rohingya in Myanmar will not
go ignored," Najib said in a speech at a port near the capital
of mostly Muslim Malaysia.
"We hear their pain, those who have been raped, murdered and
Myanmar security forces launched a crackdown in the north of
Rakhine State, on the border with Bangladesh, in October after
nine policemen were killed in attacks on border posts the
government blamed on Rohingya supported by foreign militants.
At least 86 people have been killed and about 66,000 have
fled into Bangladesh since then to escape what refugees,
residents and human rights groups say have been abuses by
Myanmar forces including summary executions and rape.
The aid shipment, bound for Myanmar's biggest city and port
of Yangon, has been organised by Malaysian Muslim groups, as
well as domestic and foreign aid groups.
The ship is expected to arrive in Yangon on Feb. 9 where it
will unload 500 tonnes of supplies, organisers said.
It will then embark on a three-day journey to Teknaf port in
Myanmar has not allowed the ship to sail to Sittwe, the
capital of Rakhine State, as organisers had hoped.
Myanmar has also insisted that the aid to be distributed
equally to both Buddhist and Muslim communities.
"We are still hoping with all our hearts that they will
eventually allow us to visit Sittwe and distribute the aid
ourselves," said the mission chief, Abdul Azeez Abdul.
Malaysia has urged the Association of South East Asian
Nations to coordinate aid and investigate alleged atrocities
committed against the Rohingya, breaking the 10-nation group's
long-standing tradition of non-interference in each other's
Myanmar, in turn, has accused Malaysia of exploiting the
crisis "to promote a certain political agenda".
Najib hosted a meeting of representatives from the
Organisation of Islamic Cooperation to discuss the treatment of
Rohingya in January and urged Islamic countries to act to end
the "humanitarian tragedy".
Malaysia's top counter-terrorism official has said Myanmar
faces a growing danger of attacks by foreign militants in
support of Rohingya.
Rohingya have faced discrimination in Myanmar for
generations. They are not classified as a distinct group under
citizenship laws and are regarded instead as illegal immigrants
from Bangladesh, entitled only to limited rights.
The recent violence in the north of Rakhine State is the
most serious since communal clashes in 2012 in which hundreds of
people were killed.
(Reporting by Rozanna Latiff; Editing by Robert Birsel)