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MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on the situation in Burma, particularly the continuing violence in Rakhine State

20.11.2012 - (2012/2878(RSP))

with request for inclusion in the agenda for a debate on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law
pursuant to Rule 122 of the Rules of Procedure

Barbara Lochbihler, Jean Lambert, Rui Tavares, Raül Romeva i Rueda, Nicole Kiil-Nielsen, Carl Schlyter on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group

See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B7-0503/2012

Procedure : 2012/2878(RSP)
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European Parliament resolution on the situation in Burma, particularly the continuing violence in Rakhine State


The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Joint declaration of the European Union and Burma on the Myanmar Peace Process in support of the Myanmar Peace Centre of 3 November 2012

-    having regard to declarations of various representatives of the Burmese government and the opposition, including Aun San Suu Kyi, denying the Rohingya ethnic minority citizens rights and minimizing the responsibility of the state authorities in the recent violent clashes

-    having regard to the appeal of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay of 9 November 2012 to the government of Myanmar to take the necessary steps towards granting Rohingyas citizens rights and equal treatment

-    having regard to the urgent appeal of the UNHCR on 13 November on the governments in Southeast Asia to keep their borders open to people fleeing Myanmar by sea

-    having regard to the declaration of Myanmar's National Human Rights Commission in August stating that the persecution of Rohingyas and the events in Rakhine state do not pertain to its responsibility

–   having regard to Rule 122 of its Rules of Procedure,

A. Whereas in October 2012, Rakhine State has experienced another wave of wide-spread inter-communal violence between predominantly Muslim and Buddhist communities, which according to UN estimates left at least 89 people dead, 37,000 people, mostly Rohingyas, displaced and some 5,000 houses and other buildings destroyed

B. Whereas since June more than 110,000 people have been forced to flee their homes, mostly Rohingya Muslims, and many of the displaced are forced to shelter in camps in cramped conditions with poor sanitary facilities dependent on outside assistance

C. Whereas local authorities have reportedly been complicit in the attacks against Rohingyas and are pursuing an active policy of removing Rohingyas from majority Hindu communities and interning them in camps beyond the city limits fenced off with barbed wire and armed guards at the entrance

D. Whereas since the 1960s there have been multiple campaigns by the Burmese/Myanmar authorities to expel the Rohingyas from Myanmar, treating them as illegal immigrants and depriving them of most basic rights including citizenship

E. Whereas Bangladesh already hosts an estimated 300 000 Rohingya refugees and Thailand reports some 92,000 registered refugees from Myanmar as well as an estimated 54,000 unregistered asylum-seekers in nine camps along the Thai-Myanmar border

F. Whereas reports multiply about sinking boats and drowning refugees from Rakhine state particularly off the Bengali coast

G. Whereas another 75,000 people have been displaced following the June 2011 collapse of a 17-year ceasefire between the government and Kachin Independence Army (KIA), which has been fighting for greater autonomy for decades and whereas UN relief convoys to Kachin State stopped due to lack of safety guarantees from the government and KIA, leaving some 33,000 people without international assistance

H. Whereas violations of land and housing rights are increasingly widespread, affecting both urban and rural communities across the country reportedly in numerous cases the armed forces, government cronies, state-owned enterprises, as well as domestic and foreign private companies,

I. Whereas on 7 September the Union Parliament has adopted new legislation to attract foreign direct investment, removing ownership restrictions for foreign companies and whereas however the development of rule of law in Burma/Myanmar is still in its infant stage, while corruption continues to be widespread

J. Whereas in the forefront of President Obama's visit to the country the authorities have released an additional 452 prisoners, including well-known human rights activist U Myint Aye,

1. Expresses its grave concern that the violence in the Rakhine region between Buddhists and Rohingyas may endanger the process of reforms, increase hatred and radicalization among ethnic groups and could have repercussions for good neighborly relations of the entire region

2. Considers that the gravity of events and the reports of complicity of state authorities in the persecution of Rohingyas demand an immediate and resolute reaction from President Thin Sein and the whole government

3. Expresses it's support for all measures to enhance ethnic harmony in the country, and reiterates notably its call on the Burmese government to review the citizenship laws in order to ensure that Rohingya have equal access to citizenship

4. Calls on the government of Burma/Myanmar to initiate a full and transparent investigation into the violence this year, including independent international experts

5. Welcomes the European Commission's additional funding of one million euros to provide food to the victims through the World Food Programme, bringing aid in support of the people of Rakhine State to €8 million this year

7. Expresses its concern that the last round of peace talks on 30 October between the government of Burma and the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) did not bring any progress towards an end of the current hostilities which started after a 17 year ceasefire collapsed in June 2011 and which since has led to the displacement of some 75000 people along the Sinology-Burmese border; calls on the Burmese government to assure safe access of aid to Northern Kachin state

8. Calls upon the Government to become a State party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and its Optional Protocol, and to agree to be bound by the individual communication and the inquiry procedures, at the earliest opportunity;

9. Welcomes the government's declared intention to take part in the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) and urges the government to draw up an adequate domestic legal framework to ensure that businesses respect human rights and to foresee remedies for victims; supports the government in moving carefully when opening up the country to foreign direct investment

10. Encourages the Government to ensure that any trade, investment or other economic agreement it enters or which it implements is consistent with its obligation to respect, protect and fulfill human rights and to suspend businesses which fail to respect these obligations

11. Call on the Government to exercise effective civilian control over state security forces and to prevent the use of these forces for the protection of private or business enterprises,

12. Call on the EU executive and the Member States to ensure that any trade, investment, or economic activity in which they engage with respect to Burma does not contribute to or result in the violation of the rights of the people of Burma/Myanmar, including activities of transnational corporations under their jurisdiction

13. Underlines that sanctions against Burma/Myanmar have been suspended for one year and recalls that the arms embargo is still in place and should be maintained as long as violent conflicts inside the country continue to undermine democratic developments in Burma/Myanmar

14. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the HR/VP of EU Foreign and Security Policy, the Commission, the UN Human Rights Commission, the Secretary General of ASEAN and the government and Parliament of Burma/Myanmar.