Procedure : 2021/2540(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : B9-0128/2021

Texts tabled :

B9-0128/2021

Debates :

PV 09/02/2021 - 12
CRE 09/02/2021 - 12

Votes :

Texts adopted :

P9_TA(2021)0054

<Date>{08/02/2021}8.2.2021</Date>
<NoDocSe>B9‑0128/2021</NoDocSe>
PDF 177kWORD 56k

<TitreType>MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION</TitreType>

<TitreSuite>to wind up the debate on the statement by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy</TitreSuite>

<TitreRecueil>pursuant to Rule 132(2) of the Rules of Procedure</TitreRecueil>


<Titre>on the situation in Myanmar</Titre>

<DocRef>(2021/2540(RSP))</DocRef>


<RepeatBlock-By><Depute>Michael Gahler, Billy Kelleher, Isabel Wiseler‑Lima, Miriam Lexmann, Daniel Caspary, Antonio Tajani</Depute>

<Commission>{PPE}on behalf of the PPE Group</Commission>

</RepeatBlock-By>

See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B9-0116/2021

B9‑0128/2021

European Parliament resolution on the situation in Myanmar

(2021/2540(RSP))

The European Parliament,

 having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) of 10 December 1948,

 having regard to its previous resolutions on Myanmar, in particular those of 19 September 2019[1], 14 June 2018[2], 14 December 2017[3], 22 November 2012[4], 20 April 2012[5],20 May 2010[6] and of 25 November 2010[7],

 having regard to Articles 18 to 21 of the UDHR,

 having regard to Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) of 1966,

 having regard to the joint statement by diplomatic missions in Myanmar of 29 January 2021 on support for Myanmar’s democratic transition and efforts to promote peace, human rights, and development in the country,

 having regard to the statement of 1 February 2021 by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative (VP/HR) of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy on Myanmar,

 having regard to the G7 Foreign Ministers’ statement of 3 February 2021 on condemning the coup in Myanmar,

 having regard to the UN Security Council’s press statement of 5 February 2021 on Myanmar,

 having regard to the press statement of 4 February 2021 by UN Secretary-General António Guterres,

 having regard to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Chair’s statement of 1 February 2021 on the developments in the Republic of the Union of Myanmar,

 having regard to the ICCPR,

 having regard to the statements by the UN Special Rapporteur for Myanmar, Tom Andrews,

 having regard to Rule 132(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas, on 1 February 2021, the military of Myanmar, known as the Tatmadaw, in a clear violation of the constitution of Myanmar, arrested President Win Myint and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, as well as leading members of the government, seized power through a coup d’état, and issued a one-year state of emergency;

B. whereas in response to the coup, protests broke out in various cities in Myanmar; whereas on 7 February 2021, approximately 100 000 people peacefully took part in a demonstration against the coup in Yangon; whereas since 1 February 2021, approximately 164 politicians, governmental officials, civil society representatives, monks and writers have been unlawfully arrested or put under house arrest;

C. whereas Myanmar held parliamentary elections on 8 November 2020, out of which the National League for Democracy (NLD) party emerged victorious by winning 396 out of 476 seats (roughly 83 % of all available seats); whereas the Tatmadaw-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) won only 33 seats; whereas the NLD party further increased its parliamentary majority from the 2015 elections, which had been the first democratic elections in Myanmar since 1990, at which the NLD won 360 seats and the USDP won 41; whereas the military had already refused to recognise the 1990 elections at which the NLD won 392 of the 492 seats;

D. whereas the voter turnout of all democratic elections was consistently at around 70 %, thus demonstrating the people of Myanmar’s support for democracy;

E. whereas the new parliament was to convene for the first time on the day of the coup; whereas the military coup has effectively set out to ignore the democratically expressed will of the people of Myanmar, and mirrors the Tatmadaw’s intention to once again seize complete power over Myanmar, just as it did during its military rule – which officially ended in 2012, but in reality has never ended; whereas the Tatmadaw stated that new elections would be held after the now-imposed one year state of emergency, implying an absence of parliamentary representation throughout this period;

F. whereas despite the coup, on 4 February 2021, 70 MPs-elect took the parliamentary oath of office, pledging to continue to conduct the function of parliament and to carry out their mandate as representatives of the people;

G. whereas the Tatmadaw, clearly conscious of its low level of support among the population, refused to accept the election results and allegedly referred to wide-spread voter fraud without presenting any evidence; whereas Myanmar’s election commission and election observers did not confirm the Tatmadaw’s allegations;

H. whereas the Constitution of Myanmar provides that only the President can effectively end civilian rule; whereas the 1 February 2021 military coup was therefore unconstitutional since President Win Myint was unlawfully arrested;

I. whereas the Tatmadaw installed General Myint Swe as interim president; whereas the commander-in-chief of the military, General Min Aung Hlaing, who is on international sanctions lists due to his participation in the persecution of the Muslim minority, is likely to remain the key decision-maker;

J. whereas since the coup, the Tatmadaw has severely limited the space for civil society, and issued severe restrictions on the media, including complete blackouts of the internet and social-media platforms; whereas the Tatmadaw is being accused by international observers of using fake news to manipulate public opinion about the coup;

K. whereas the military had made a habit of sidelining political rivals and critics by charging them with arcane offences; whereas Aung San Suu Kyi was arrested and later charged with illegally importing at least 10 walkie-talkies; whereas ousted President Win Myint was detained on 1 February 2021 for violating emergency coronavirus regulations and stands accused of greeting a car full of supporters during the electoral campaign last year; whereas if found guilty, both could face up to three years in prison; whereas holding a criminal record could preclude them from returning to public office;

L. whereas as a result of the decade-long military rule, which only partially ended in 2012, the Tatmadaw suffers a bad public image and is feared for its cruelty; whereas approximately 100 groups have joined the Civil Disobedience Movement, which has called for strikes in the medical service, among other sectors;

M. whereas Myanmar has a long story of democratic struggle and military suppression; whereas since its independence from Britain in 1948, in particular over the long period of 1962-2015, the military held a firm grip to power, restricting any democratic progress, including civil society organisations, limiting human rights, and imprisoning opposition activists, including the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who was under house arrest during large parts of the period between 1989 and 2010;

N. whereas the current constitution entered into force in 2008 and has serious democratic deficiencies, given that it guarantees 25 % of the seats in parliament to the Tatmadaw and hence effectively grants the military the power to veto any further constitutional changes, which should require 75 % of votes; whereas the constitution further ensures that the Tatmadaw maintains full control of the security forces, the police, and the Ministries of Home Affairs, Defence and Border Affairs;

O. whereas, following a series of protests and internal struggles, the country started to gradually open up democratically in the early 2010s, which led to increased civil liberties, including slow democratic progress, visible through the general elections of 2015 as well as series of by-elections – which were all largely won by opposition party NLD;

P. whereas given the sensitive nature of the overall situation, Myanmar, while having a semi-democratic and civilian government since 2015, remained in a fragile and tense state, given that the pro-democracy forces and the Tatmadaw, despite largely shared views about certain economic development projects and economic reforms, had fundamentally different visions about the country’s future path;

Q. whereas the democratic opening in Myanmar, which was taken place since the 2010, was largely motivated by the need to economically develop the country, since it had been suffering under strict international sanctions as a result of its military rule and devastating human rights record; whereas as a result of the cautious democratic reforms, certain international sanctions were slowly rolled-back, which therefore allowed for economic development, and benefited large parts of the population of Myanmar;

R. whereas human rights violations, in particular against the Muslim minority in Myanmar – especially the Rohingya –, which the Government of Myanmar has failed to recognise as an ethnic group of its country, continued after the democratic opening and tragically culminated in atrocities being committed in 2017, which the UN characterised as ethnic cleansing, and led to a massive exodus of refugees towards neighbouring Bangladesh; whereas the Rohingya minority, despite numerous calls by the international community, continue to be persecuted in Myanmar to this very day;

S. whereas international calls to stop ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya and to improve their situation were largely ignored by the Government of Myanmar; whereas as a consequence, in September 2019, Parliament ultimately suspended Aung San Suu Kyi, then State Counsellor and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Myanmar, from its Sakharov human rights prize community for her failure to act against these well-documented human rights violations; whereas international sanctions over human rights violations have since been issued against the military and the ruling Commander-in-Chief General Min Aung Hlaing, among other people;

T. whereas there are 135 ethnic groups in Myanmar, including the Rohingya, Karen, Rakhine, Shan and Chin peoples; whereas internal conflicts have led to the tragic loss of thousands of lives over the past decades; whereas recent clashes in Karen State have led to 4 000 being displaced since December 2020;

U. whereas since 2013, the European Union has politically and financially supported Myanmar’s process of democratic transition and has undertaken enormous efforts to promote peace, human rights and development in the country; whereas in October 2015, the EU signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement as an international witness, reflecting its key role in supporting the peace process; whereas the EU allocated EUR 688 million in development support to Myanmar over the 2014-2020 period; whereas Myanmar benefits from trade preferences under the ‘Everything But Arms’ (EBA) scheme, which allows duty-free and quota-free access to the EU’s single market;

V. whereas Myanmar is strategically located at the Bay of Bengal and has long tried to benefit from and attract international investments and finance coming from the US, Europe, China and other countries;

W. whereas the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had transferred USD 350 million in emergency coronavirus financing to Myanmar the week prior to the coup;

X. whereas the Tatmadaw and its generals are faced with wide-spread allegations of corruption and are deeply involved in the economy of Myanmar, since they own powerful conglomerates, control the country’s trade in precious jade and timber, manage infrastructure such as ports and dams, running banking, insurance, hospitals, gyms and the media; whereas the military coup puts at risk the continuous involvement of international investments, tourism and finance;

Y. whereas the coup was met with condemnation, criticism and concern by a wide range of international actors such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, India, Australia, Canada; whereas the ASEAN Chair issued a statement encouraging ‘dialogue, reconciliation and the return to normalcy’;

Z. whereas UN Secretary-General Guterres called the coup ‘absolutely unacceptable’; whereas the UN Security Council issued a press statement expressing ‘deep concern’ over the military takeover in Myanmar, calling for the immediate release of the country’s elected leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, and President Win Myint; whereas China and Russia prevented a stronger text from being adopted by the UN Security Council; whereas on 7 February 2021, UN Special Rapporteur for Myanmar Tom Andrews published a statement urging the UN Human Rights Council, among other stakeholders, to immediately convene a Special Session;

1. Expresses its sympathy and support for the people of Myanmar in their peaceful and legitimate struggle for democracy, freedom and human rights;

2. Strongly condemns the military coup in Myanmar and calls on the Tatmadaw to fully respect the outcome of the democratic elections of November 2020 and, in order not to jeopardise all the democratic progress achieved in past years, to immediately reinstate the civilian government, end the state of emergency, and allow all elected parliamentarians to assume their mandates in order to restore constitutional order and democratic norms;

3. Calls for the immediate and unconditional release of President Win Myint, State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, and all others who have been illegally arrested under the pretext of fake elections or fraudulent election results or other preposterous accusations that have no merit; reminds the Tatmadaw that these kind of allegations further reduce its domestic and international credibility; underlines that the military of Myanmar must clarify on what legal basis those arrested have been detained and that it must also guarantee that their rights are fully respected, including protection against ill treatment, and that they have access to lawyers of their own choice and to their families;

4. Reiterates the offer made by the VP/HR, in which he stated that the European Union was ready to support dialogue with all key stakeholders who wish to resolve the situation in good faith and to return constitutional order to Myanmar;

5. Strongly criticises the restriction of civil and human rights, as well as the restrictions on the freedom of expression and assembly, and in this light also strongly condemns the curtailing of media freedom through blacking out the internet and restricting and blocking social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter;

6. Underlines that blackouts on telecommunications pose an additional threat to the population, in addition to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as does the ongoing internal conflict involving armed groups, which puts civilians at risk in several parts of the country; emphasises, therefore, that full phone and internet services must be resumed immediately;

7. Highlights the statement by the VP/HR in which he stated that the European Union expected that the safety of the citizens of both Myanmar and of its Member States would be ensured at all times and that the EU would consider all options at its disposal to ensure that democracy prevails;

8. Salutes the people of Myanmar, who have endured decades of military rule and despite having only benefited from limited democratic freedoms, pursue their quest for a democratic Myanmar, and applauds them for the impressive turnout of roughly 70 % at the 2020 elections, which is higher than most elections in European countries and is a clear indicator of its citizens’ wish to participate in the democratic governing of their country;

9. Reiterates its firm support to civil society and democracy advocates in Myanmar and calls for the EU and its institutions to continue efforts aimed at civil society advancement, despite current and possibly ongoing limitations imposed by the current military government;

10. Reaffirms its core belief that democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights are fundamental in order to achieve sustainable and truly inclusive economic growth and prosperity;

11. Reiterates that, despite her failure to adequately condemn the human rights violations against minorities in Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi continues to be the symbol of the people of Myanmar when it comes to democratic aspirations and ambitions for a more just and democratic future; salutes, in this context, while reiterating the previous call for her immediate release, her personal life story and expresses its firm belief that she will continue to closely be linked to the future path of her homeland;

12. Expresses its concern about the increased level of falsified and manipulated information circulated by the Tatmadaw in Myanmar, and sees the increasing presence of such fake news not only in the country, but also in other regions of dispute or conflict around the world; notes that this is a worrying trend to which the European Union and its Member States, together with its international allies, should seek to find an adequate response;

13. Recalls that Myanmar must fulfil its obligations and commitments in relation to democratic principles and human rights, which are an essential component of the EBA scheme; urges the EU and its Member States to increase pressure on the Tatmadaw and take any measure at their disposal to ensure the return to power of the elected authorities; calls on the Commission, in the light of the recent developments, to consider taking additional protective measures, while bearing in mind the positive effects of previously granted trade preference on civil society and civil economy;

14. Calls for the EU institutions and other international financial organisations to closely scrutinise the financial activities of the Tatmadaw and its members and to elaborate on what kind of appropriate measures could be taken in case the situation in Myanmar fails to improve or even deteriorates further;

15. Reminds the Tatmadaw that the recent IMF emergency coronavirus financing must be used to address the economic setbacks as well as health shortcomings linked to the pandemic and reiterates that the IMF and other international institutions will closely monitor this situation; highlights that the actions of the Tatmadaw will have an impact on future decisions by made international institutions;

16. Calls on the VP/HR to closely engage with like-minded partners, such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, India, Australia, Canada and, in particular the Members of ASEAN, and work closely with them and streamline positions and initiatives in order to work towards the restoration of a civilian government in Myanmar as soon as possible;

17. Extends its support to UN Special Rapporteur for Myanmar Tom Andrews and welcomes the close cooperation between the EU and the UN and other international organisations on Myanmar;

18. Further calls on the VP/HR to establish a communication channel with the governments of China and Russia in order to agree on common interests and positions vis-à-vis Myanmar; further calls on China and Russia to actively engage in international diplomacy and live up to their responsibility as permanent Members of the UN Security Council and expects them to play a constructive role when scrutinising the situation in Myanmar;

19. Welcomes the ASEAN Chair’s statement on ‘The Developments in The Republic of The Union of Myanmar’, which underlined the importance of ‘adherence to the principles of democracy, the rule of law and good governance, respect for and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms’;

20. Recalls the multi-ethnic nature of Myanmar and urges the Tatmadaw to fully respect each ethnicity’s inalienable rights, and underlines that the European Union will continue to closely monitor the actions of the military leadership regarding its minorities, in particular the Rohingyas, who have already suffered enormous cruelty in the past; expresses, in this regard, its gratitude and respect to the Government and people of Bangladesh who have welcomed and continued to host roughly one million Rohingya refugees from Myanmar; underlines firmly that Myanmar ultimately bears the responsibility for these refugees and must ensure their safe, humane and orderly repatriation and reintegration in Myanmar;

21. Calls on the VP/HR and the Member States to closely follow the situation in Myanmar, and invites the VP/HR to report back to Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs on a regular basis in order to ensure adequate parliamentary dialogue on this important and worrying situation;

22. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the governments and parliaments of the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, India, Australia, Canada, the Member States of ASEAN, the Asia-Europe Meeting and the ASEAN Inter-parliamentary Assembly Secretariat, the UN Secretary-General, the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (Assembly of the Union of Myanmar), the President, the State Counsellor and the military of Myanmar.

 

[1]Texts adopted, P9_TA(2019)0018.

[2]OJ C 28, 27.1.2020, p. 80,

[3]OJ C 369, 11.10.2018, p. 91.

[4]OJ C 419, 16.12.2015, p. 189.

[5]OJ C 258E, 7.9.2013, p. 79.

[6]OJ C 161E, 31.5.2011, p. 154.

[7]OJ C 99E, 3.4.2012, p. 120.

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