Rohingya crisis: MEPs urge EU to 'significantly increase pressure' on Myanmar

Written by Martin Banks on 14 December 2017 in News
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MEPs have called for an inter-governmental summit to end the ongoing persecution of Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims.

Rohingya mass grave evidence is collected by Malaysian forensic investigators | Photo credit: Press Association


A resolution on the issue was backed in plenary.

According to Doctors without Borders, over 600,000 Rohingyas have been forced to flee their homes and seek refuge in neighbouring Bangladesh and at least 6700 Rohingya, including some 730 children below the age of five, were killed in August alone.

The charity said the figures were the most conservative estimates.


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It said the first major survey on the scale of mortality was the “clearest indication yet of the widespread violence” that began on 25 August.

A top United Nations human rights official said last week that Myanmar’s security forces may be guilty of genocide against the Rohingya.

The crisis has been called a textbook example of ethnic cleansing by the UN’s High Commissioner for human rights.

The parliamentary resolution follows an extraordinary debate on the crisis in Parliament earlier this week.

It calls on the military and security forces in Myanmar to immediately cease the killings, harassment and rape of the Rohingya.

The total number of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh is expected to exceed one million by the end of 2017, says the resolution adopted on Thursday.

The resolution also urges the Myanmar government to: condemn unequivocally all incitement to racial or religious hatred and combat social discrimination and hostilities against the Rohingya minority; work with international aid agencies, the EU and the UN to allow immediate, unhindered humanitarian access to Rakhine state; end the segregation of the Rohingya population; and immediately cease its use of landmines and remove all mines already laid.

The EU and its member states, as a matter of urgency, should adopt targeted punitive sanctions against individuals responsible for perpetuating widespread human rights abuses in Myanmar, and extend the scope of the existing EU arms embargo against Myanmar, the resolution urges.

It calls on the EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini to “significantly increase pressure” on the Myanmar authorities and security services to “end the violence and discrimination perpetrated against the Rohingya people.”

The sensitivity of the issue was illustrated last month when Pope Francis failed to mention the Rohingyas by name in a speech in Myanmar.

Instead, he only referred to the Muslim minority as he encouraged the country to “respect the rights of all who call this land their home.”

Adoption of the resolution was welcomed by ECR group MEP Amjad Bashir, who said he hopes that an inter-governmental conference would “guarantee the safe return of the Rohingyas to Myanmar, restore their citizenship rights and set up an inquiry into all allegations of crimes against humanity.”

Bashir said, “Inaction is simply unacceptable in the face of such cruel persecution and such human disaster. I am pleased colleagues from across the Parliament have called for the international community to act to end the ongoing crisis.

“I believe there is now real momentum, a growing international consensus that the world cannot stand by and watch as a whole people are wiped out and driven abroad.”

Sajjad Karim, also an ECR group MEP, said, “For many, many years now one MEP after another has stood in this chamber and highlighted the plight of the Rohingya. It seems that those calls have fallen on deaf ears and today we arrive at a situation where even the Pope cannot go there and call these people by their true identity.

“It is clear that while there is much that is being done by the European Union today, unless and until we insist on a regularisation and status for these people, they are going to continually find themselves in this position time after time. I hope this vote offers the Rohingya a chance and spurs on the international community to act.”

 

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Martin Banks is a senior reporter for the Parliament Magazine

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