21 May 2015
Turkey’s decision to send a ship to rescue Rohingya at sea is another instance of Turkish soft power at work. Turkey has been playing an increasingly visible role in relief operations in other parts of the world, projecting itself as a benevolent Muslim power and earning the trust of non-Turkish Muslim communities.
As the nation-states of the ASEAN region work to find a solution to the Rohingya exodus across the waters of Southeast Asia, a non-ASEAN country has joined in the effort: Turkey. On 19 May 2015 Prime Minister Ahmet Davotuglu announced that a Turkish battleship was on its way to the region, with the intention of rescuing Rohingya who may be lost at sea; while working with the International Organisation for Migration, whose deputy chief of mission is based in Jakarta, Indonesia.
That Turkey has decided to involve itself in the Rohingya issue is interesting both in terms of its timing and the manner in which it has chosen to involve itself. It ought to be noted that Turkey’s contribution has come in the form of a ship whose mission it is to intercept and rescue Rohingya out at sea. At no point has Turkey addressed the internal political crisis in Myanmar itself which has led to the exodus of Rohingya from the country, and has thus far not issued any critical statements to blame any parties or actors for the Rohingya exodus in the first place. Rather than dealing with the political problem in Myanmar, it has focused its attention on the Rohingya exodus out at sea.
… Farish A. Noor is Associate Professor and Coordinator of the PhD Programme at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
GPO / Online
Last updated on 18/11/2015