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Asian peace rankings fall amid Rohingya crisis

Myanmar, Cambodia and Bangladesh plummet in annual global security and safety index
Asian peace rankings fall amid Rohingya crisis

A Rohingya youth looks out from a mosque as he attends afternoon prayers at a refugee camp in Ukhia, Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, on May 10. The Rohingya crisis contributed to both Myanmar and Bangladesh falling in global peace rankings. (Photo by Munir Uz Zaman/AFP) 

Asia has become a less peaceful place, according to the 2018 Global Peace Index, with conditions in Cambodia and Myanmar deteriorating most in the region.

The Australia-based Institute for Economics and Peace ranks the safety and security of 163 countries, including the degree of their militarization and the impact of ongoing conflicts.

Myanmar sank 15 places to 122nd in the world rankings due to ongoing violence against ethnic minority Rohingya Muslims, while Cambodia slid 18 slots to 96th as a result of Prime Minister Hun Sen's suppression of the main opposition political party.

The humanitarian crisis in Myanmar had a knock-on effect on neighboring Bangladesh, ranked 93rd, which slid 10 places and saw the biggest decline in South Asia.

Despite improvements in political stability and curbing terrorism, Bangladesh's relations with neighboring countries declined, in part due to the influx of some 700,000 Rohingya refugees.

"The peacefulness of regions and sub-egions tend to rise and fall together, implying that attempts to resolve conflicts need to take a regional rather than a narrow national view," the Global Peace Index report states.

The Asia-Pacific region saw a 5 percent increase in its "political terror" score, which correlated with a decline in peace in the region and the cementing of more authoritarian regimes.

The Philippines, where there have extrajudicial killings of thousands of drug suspects and a bloody southern battle with Islamic militants, fell one spot to 137.

In Cambodia, Defense Ministry spokesperson Chhum Socheat said his nation's lower ranking was unfair given an absence of violent conflict.

Cambodian opposition leader Kem Sokha was arrested in September on contested treason allegations and his party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party, was forcibly dissolved.

Meanwhile, Myanmar should have been ranked much lower on the list, according to Maung Zarni, an adviser at the European Centre for the Study of Extremism

"Myanmar should be one of the bottom three, after Syria and Yemen," he said, comparing persecution there to that in Nazi Germany during the 1930s.

Zarni said he had met with dozens of Rohingya women and children who fled to Bangladesh.

"Their trauma is no less than the trauma suffered by other genocide survivors," he said. "They are scarred for life."

Globally, the economic impact of violence was a whopping US$14.76 trillion — a rise of 2 percent in the latest index.

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At US$1,988 per person, the global economic impact of violence was higher than at any other point in the past decade. 

Pakistan saw a slight improvement, but at 151st remains the least peaceful nation in the region, second only to North Korea, at 150th. Singapore, ranked eighth, and Japan, ninth, were the only Asian nations to crack the top 10.

India improved slightly, rising one spot to 136, as did Nepal (84), Sri Lanka (67) and Bhutan (19). China and Thailand, meanwhile, were considered "medium" countries in terms of peacefulness at 112 and 113 respectively.

LIST:

8 – Singapore, up 3

9 – Japan, down 1

19 - Bhutan, up 5

25 - Malaysia, up 4

34 – Taiwan, up 3

46 - Laos, down 2

46 - Mongolia, down 1

49 - South Korea, down 6

55 – Indonesia, down 2

59 - Timor-Leste, down 5

60 – Vietnam, no change

67 – Sri Lanka, up 5

84 – Nepal, up 4

93 – Bangladesh, down 10

96 – Cambodia, down 18

100 - Papua New Guinea, down 3

112 – China, up 3

113 – Thailand, up 7

122 – Myanmar, down 13

136 – India, up 1

137 – Philippines, down 1

150 - North Korea, no change

151 – Pakistan, up 1

 

The Institute of Economics and Peace was founded by IT entrepreneur Steve Killelea. Revenue (according to their 2016 annual report): $6.5 million.

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