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Myanmar stops workers after Najib lashing for Rohingya ‘genocide’

‘The world cannot sit and watch genocide taking place’: Bangladeshi activists from Islamic organisations march towards the Myanmar embassy in Dhaka on December 6, 2016, to protest against the persecution of Rohingya Muslims.

December 8, 2016

Myanmar has halted sending workers to Muslim-­majority Malaysia as relations sour over a bloody military crackdown on the Buddhist country’s Rohingya minority.

The move came after Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak lashed out during a rally in Kuala Lumpur at Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi for ­allowing “genocide”during a rally in Kuala Lumpur.

The crowds were protesting against the crackdown in Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine that has pushed more than 20,000 Rohingya Muslims into Bangladesh. Survivors have told of gang rape, torture and murder at the hands of Myanmar security forces, while dozens have died trying to cross the river that separates the two countries.

Buddhist-majority Myanmar has long discriminated against the stateless Rohingya and the recent crisis has galvanised protests in Muslim countries around the region, including Malaysia.

“We want to tell Aung San Suu Kyi, enough is enough ... We must and we will defend Muslims and Islam,” Mr Najib said at Sunday’s rally.

“The world cannot sit and watch genocide taking place.”

A Malaysian government minister has also called for a review of Myanmar’s membership of the regional ASEAN bloc.

Myanmar officials have ­denied the allegations of abuse and Ms Suu Kyi has told the international community to stop stoking the “fires of resentment”.

Late on Tuesday, Myanmar’s immigration ministry said it had stopped issuing new licences for its nationals to work in wealthier Malaysia, for years a top destination for migrant labour.

“Myanmar has temporarily stopped sending workers to ­Malaysia from 6/12/2016 ­because of the current situation in Malaysia,” it said.

Myanmar also summoned Malaysia’s ambassador to protest at Mr Najib’s accusations of ethnic cleansing.

“Such irresponsible remarks could worsen the already deepening polarisation between the two communities and violent ­extremism,” Myanmar’s foreign ministry said yesterday.

Malaysia hosts tens of thousands of Myanmar workers, most of them in low-paid jobs.

About 56,000 Rohingya have arrived in Malaysia in recent years, many taking perilous boat journeys to flee poverty and ­discrimination in Rakhine.

On Tuesday, former UN ­secretary-general Kofi Annan, who heads a commission on Rakhine, said he thought the crisis would not split the region apart.

“I think it can be contained. There is a possibility here to ­contain what is going on,” he said in Yangon at the end of a week-long visit.

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