Human rights: albinos in Malawi, activists in Bahrain and Rohingya in Myanmar
Parliament condemns recent crimes and widespread discrimination against albinos in Malawi, ongoing restrictions of fundamental democratic rights in Bahrain and practices that discriminate against Myanmar’s Muslim minority, in particular the Rohingya, in three resolutions voted on Thursday.
Crimes against people with albinism in Africa, notably in Malawi
MEPs express deep concern at the continuous and widespread discrimination and persecution faced by persons with albinism in Africa. In Malawi, where an estimated 10,000 people have albinism, the police have reported 69 attacks on them since November 2014, including 18 murders, four of which took place as recently as April 2016. One victim was a two-year-old baby.
A congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide, albinism is even more frequent in sub-Saharan countries, with Tanzania, Malawi and Burundi having the highest concentrations of people with albinism, note MEPs. As the biggest threat to these people comes from the widespread superstitions and misleading beliefs surrounding the body parts of albinos, MEPs stress “the crucial role of local authorities and civil society organisations in promoting the rights of persons with albinism, informing and educating the population and shattering the myths and prejudices about this disorder.”
They deplore the “silence and inertia surrounding” the recent events and urge the Malawian authorities to put an end to impunity and to seek, as a matter of urgency, international support to conduct impartial and effective investigations into all reported attacks against persons with albinism.
Human rights violations in Bahrain
The European Parliament reiterates its strong condemnation of the ongoing campaign of repression against human rights defenders, the political opposition and civil society, as well as the restriction of fundamental democratic rights in Bahrain (previous most recent resolutions on Bahrain voted on 6 February 2014, 12 September 2013, 17 January 2013, 15 March 2012).
It calls for the immediate and unconditional release of the prominent human rights defender Nabeel Rajab, the head of the Al-Wefaq opposition group Sheikh Ali Salman, and other human rights activists jailed on allegations relating to their rights to free expression, assembly, and association. It also urges that all charges against them be dropped.
The Bahraini government has a responsibility to “ensure the security and safety of all citizens irrespective of their political views, affiliation or confession”, add MEPs, who believe that “long-term stability and security in Bahrain can only be ensured by building a truly pluralistic society that is respectful of diversity”.
MEPs are particularly concerned about the misuse of anti-terrorism laws in Bahrain and, especially, the revocation of nationality as a means of political pressure and punishment. They call on the Bahraini authorities to amend the country’s citizenship law and to restore Bahraini citizenship to the over 300 persons, including human rights defenders, politicians, journalists and senior religious authorities, who have been unfairly stripped of it, the majority of whom were rendered stateless.
Myanmar’s Rohingya minority
Whilst welcoming the peaceful transfer of power to Myanmar's first non-military president since 1962 after the credible, competitive elections of November 2015, overwhelmingly won by the National League for Democracy (NLD), MEPs nonetheless stress that the gravity of the continuing persecution of certain minorities demands immediate remedies.
Parliament reiterates its deep concern about the plight of Rohingya in South-East Asia. This ethno-religious Muslim minority of about one million people is one of the world’s most persecuted minorities, officially stateless since the 1982 Burmese Citizenship Law and unwanted by the Myanmar authorities and by neighbouring countries. It calls for regional and international mobilisation to provide them with urgent assistance in their extremely vulnerable situation.
MEPs urge the authorities to, “as a matter of urgency, ensure free and unimpeded access to Rakhine State, where some 120,000 Rohingya remain in more than 80 internal displacement camps, for humanitarian actors, the United Nations, international human rights organisations, journalists and other international observers”.
The Myanmar government should condemn unequivocally all incitement to racial or religious hatred and implement specific measures and policies to prevent direct and indirect discrimination against the Rohingya in the future, adds the resolution.
Procedure: Non-legislative resolutions