The Indonesian president has offered some support to embattled Burmese President Thein Sein regarding the tensions between Rakhines and Rohingyas that has led to dozens of deaths and widespread destruction of property in western Burma.
“The Myanmarese government has been on the track of democratization, which includes reconciling conflicting communities. Myanmar has also formed an investigation committee after communal conflicts peaked in May and June, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said on Saturday.
He said Burma had done its best to handle long-standing tensions in western Rakhine State, according to The Jakarta Post on Sunday.
The statement, from the president of Asia’s most populated Muslim state, came amid growing protests against Burma’s handling of the ethnic unrest.
The Indonesian president said he was trying to explain the situation in Burma “completely, properly and objectively, particularly after listening to reports from the Indonesian ambassador to Burma and Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa.”
Yudhoyono also claimed the government had done whatever was necessary to help settle the issue, particularly through diplomatic relations as well as international forums such as Asean, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the UN, the article said.
“I have also prepared a letter for Myanmar President Thein Sein consisting of Indonesia’s hopes for the Myanmarese government to settle the ethnic issue as well as possible,” Yudhoyono said.
He said that the Rakhine-Rohingya conflict was communal instead of religious. “Coincidently the Rohingyas are Muslims and the Rakhines are Buddists,” he said.
“The Rohingyas originate from Bangladesh. However, even after four generations, Myanmar’s policy has yet to include them as one of the country’s 135 ethnic groups,” Yudhoyono said.
He also called on Indonesians to “help provide humanitarian aid to our Rohingya brothers,” despite his previous comments singled out the victims on both sides.
Yudhoyono’s first official statement on the Rohingya issue was made only a day after former vice president, Jusuf Kalla, in his capacity as the chairman of the Indonesian Red Cross, attended an OIC forum in Kuala Lumpur.
The forum, which was also attended by representatives of dozens of NGOs from 20 OIC member states, concluded that international political pressure on the Burmese government would be crucial in settling the issue.
The president has held numerous press conference is at his residence but this time his podium was moved meters forward so the cameramen and photographers could also capture the Muslim congregation in the background, the newspaper reported.