MEPs call on Myanmar to end persecution of the Rohingya 

Rohingya Muslims walk to the shore after arriving on a boat from Myanmar to Bangladesh ©Dar Yasin/AP Photos/European Union-EP  

Over the last month 400,000 Rohingyas have fled Myanmar to Bangladesh. MEPs urge the Myanmar government to stop the crackdown on the minority.

The Rohingya are a Muslim minority in Myanmar who have been deprived of their nationality. They face restrictions to freedom of movement, political rights and access to health and education and are also victims of forced labour and sexual violence. After a group of Rohingya insurgents carried out an attack on police posts and an army base in Rakhine State in August, the population has been subjected to a violent military crackdown that has led to almost half of the Rohinga people living in Rakhine State - 400,000 out of one million - flee their homes.


Over the years, MEPs have adopted several resolutions condemning the treatment of the community. In a resolution approved last week, MEPs called on the "military and security forces in Myanmar to immediately cease the killings, harassment and rape of the Rohingya people, and the burning of their homes". They also called on Myanmar authorities to grant access to independent monitors “to look into allegations of serious human rights violations by all parties” and urged the “Commission and the member states to increase financial and material support for these refugees”.


Dramatic situation


"The situation in Myanmar is dramatic," Italian S&D member Pier Antonio Panzeri, chair of the human rights subcommittee. "The European Parliament condemns the behaviour of the Burmese authorities and calls on Bangladesh to keep the borders open. In addition, the Parliament and Europe can use trade policy as a leverage in the bilateral relations."


Political and financial pressure


German EPP member Werner Langen, chair of delegation for relations with the countries of Southeast Asia and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), also called for additional action: “The EU has publicly condemned the recent attacks on the Rohingyas and will keep exercising political and financial pressure to help put an end to the situation, that the UN considers ethnic cleansing."


A planned visit to Myanmar by a delegation of the international trade committee has been postponed indefinitely in light of the recent developments in Myanmar.


In 2013, the EU lifted all sanctions, with the exception of the arms embargo, on Myanmar after political reforms were put in place by the country after 50 years of a military dictatorship.



Aung San Suu Kyi


In the resolution adopted last week, MEPs called on Myanmar’s state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, a Peace Nobel Prize winner and the 1990 Sakharov Prize laureate, to end hostilities against the Rohingya minority. In the resolution MEPs also discussed the possibility of revoking the Sakharov Prize should laureates stop respecting the values the award stands for, namely respect for human rights and protection of minorities among others. “I am astonished by [Aung San Suu Kyi] turning a blind eye, an attitude that favours the perpetration of this violence,” said Panzeri.