Jakarta. Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu said he will discuss the possibility that some Rohingya Muslims might be susceptible to joining terrorist groups in the region and propose his intelligence initiative, "Our Eyes," at the 11th Asean Defense Ministers Meeting, or ADMM, in the Philippines later this month.
"We must not take the Rohingya situation lightly. If we don’t handle it well, they are likely to join [terrorist groups] [...] If they find that they are not accepted here nor there, there’s a likelihood that they will [radicalize]," Ryamizard told reporters in Jakarta on Friday (13/10).
More than 500,000 Rohingya, mostly Muslims, have fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh after a violent crackdown by Myanmar security forces in response to Rohingya militant attacks in August.
The Rohingya are denied citizenship and are regarded as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, despite claiming roots in Myanmar that go back centuries.
According to a report from Reuters, Myanmar’s army chief reaffirmed the government’s insensitive stance on the issue and said that the Rohingya are not native to Myanmar, and did not address accusations of misconduct and abuse perpetrated by Myanmar security forces.
The plight of the Rohingya is one of the most pressing challenges facing the region.
Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines launched coordinated air patrols on Thursday as part of a trilateral effort to intensify the ongoing fight against Islamic militants in the southern Philippine city of Marawi.
The three countries launched their joint maritime patrols earlier in June, following the stronghold of Islamic militants and increasing violence in Marawi, which has reportedly breached a death toll of 1,000.
According to Ryamizard, the security cooperation will be expanded in the near future in the form of joint land patrols.
He also emphasized the need to increase effectiveness by incorporating "strong intelligence" to deal with the increasing threat of terrorism and radicalism in the region, in reference to Indonesia’s "Our Eyes" proposal, which he said will be proposed during the meeting with his Asean counterparts this month.
"We need to have strong intelligence so that our perspectives are always clear and sharp. If we don’t have it, our efforts will be inconsequential," Ryamizard said.