REPUBLIKA.CO.ID, SURABAYA -- An observer suggested the setting up of an ASEAN special body for refugees as the region would likely continue to face cases like the Rohingya refugees.
"The ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) concerns not only with economy but also with togetherness in political, cultural and social aspects," Dr Makarim Wibisono, an international law professor at the state run University of Airlangga in Surabaya, said.
Dr Makarim made the statement in a public debate on 'Rohingya Refugee and ASEAN Response' here on Wednesday.
The senior diplomat, who prepared special report of human rights in Palestine to the United Nation, said the Rohingya refugee problem is a humanitarian social affairs.
"That is in line with the second principle of our state philosophy Pancasila. Therefore we must seek to create an ASEAN community which concerns not only economic relations but also social relations and togetherness. That is the type of togetherness that we need to show the world," he said.
He urged the government to propose the forming of the special body in charge of refugee affairs at the next ASEAN meetings.
The refugee problem like that of Rohingya refugees could be coped with only with the spirit of togetherness of ASEAN's "big family", he said.
A social and political science lecturer of the university Baiq Wardhani said the Rohingya refugee problem is not only a social affairs but also a political issue.
"Rohingya people are a minority ethnic group living on the border area between Myanmar and Bangladesh. After Myanmar gained independence under military junta in the 1970s , the Muslim community were driven and were forced to migrate to Bangladesh , but after four decades Bangladesh could no longer accommodate more refugees and rejected new immigrants," Baiq said.
Baiq, therefore , support the idea of forming a special body by Asean to deal with refugees in this region.
"The Rohingya refugee problem needs to be coped with together involving Bangladesh and ASEAN countries such as Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia," he said.