Asean shirks regional duty

The Myanmar government has caused or allowed a human tragedy to escalate and turn murderous in its Rakhine state. The plight of the Rohingya has gone from bad to worse. A fledgling jihadist group has appeared in the mix. Nay Pyi Taw and an apparently confused and directionless Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi have received and deserved condemnation from around the world. But from arguably the most important source there has been only an embarrassing and startling silence.

Asean has a moral and legal duty to respond to the crisis over the Myanmar Rohingya. But from the group, from its secretary-general and from most of the other member countries, the silence has been deafening. Only two Asean members, Malaysia and Indonesia, have spoken out against Myanmar's treatment of its Rohingya minority.

The ethical necessity to call on Myanmar to stop its human rights abuses is clear. Asean diplomats, in private, claim they must remain tight-lipped. But precedent and the group's own charter demand otherwise.

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