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The worsening plight of Muslim Rohingya communities in Myanmar's Rakhine state could soon imperil the country's government, as well as the reputation of its leader, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. The crisis has been escalating since last October, when Myanmar's military launched an offensive in which 130 Rohingya were killed, and dozens of their buildings were torched. The persecution of the Rohingya can no longer be described as merely a domestic problem for Myanmar.ASEAN has been criticized for approaching the Rohingya issue too cautiously, and for failing to recognize that the ongoing conflict could divide the bloc along ethno-religious lines. The region's population is 60 percent Muslim, 18 percent Buddhist and 17 percent Christian; continued discrimination against the Rohingya already has become a rallying cry for sympathetic Islamic extremist groups in countries that provide asylum. Following the meeting, Myanmar showed willingness to grant humanitarian access and to keep the ASEAN members informed.ASEAN needs to grow into a strong, politically accountable, European Union-style community.
The tragedy of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi
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