European Parliamentarians: Press Myanmar to Stop Violence and Ethnic Cleansing against the Rohingya
[12 February 2018, Brussels] – On Monday a delegation from the European Parliament will visit Myanmar and Bangladesh to discuss the Rohingya crisis. Commenting on the visit, Dr Anita Schug, Spokesperson of the European Rohingya Council said, “This is a key opportunity for EU officials to see for themselves the dire situation faced by the Rohingya, who carry the scars of unimaginable destruction committed against them by the Burmese military and local Rakhine vigilantes.”
She continues, “The visit is a unique occasion for EU representatives to assert that Myanmar’s military and civilian leadership adhere to the demands of the Rohingya people and international community to end the violence, stop ethnic cleansing, and provide full access to Rakhine State for UN aid agencies, the UN Fact-Finding Mission, UN Special Rapporteur Ms Yanghee Lee, and local and international media. If the authorities do not abide by these demands, the EU must implement targeted sanctions and other punitive measures.”
The visit comes at a time of peak contention between the government of Myanmar and the international community. The authorities in Myanmar have refused to comply with the mandate of Special Rapporteur Lee by denying her entry into the country. Similarly, a visit to Rakhine State in February by the UN Security Council was not granted by the Myanmar authorities. The delegation visit also comes as the press is reporting on mass graves in areas where Rohingya villages once stood and the Burmese security forces, army officials and local Rakhine people are confessing to killings.
“We also ask Members of the European Parliament to press upon the authorities in Myanmar and Bangladesh that the refugee repatriation agreement must be amended. Refugees are fearful of forcible returns. The agreement should be renegotiated with the full involvement of UNHCR and Rohingya representatives from the camps in Bangladesh.”
Schug highlights restoration of citizenship for the Rohingya as a vital demand. “The violence against the Rohingya is directly related to the culture of discrimination and lack of legal protections. The Rohingya community had their Burmese citizenship revoked in 1982. In recent months, the authorities have forced the Rohingya to accept National Verification Cards (NVCs). These cards label the Rohingya as ‘Bengali’ immigrants and will lead to further discrimination. The EU Parliament delegation must call on the authorities to cease the NVC campaign and revise the 1982 citizenship law.”
More broadly, Schug concluded, “The magnitude of the violence and persecution faced by the Rohingya is unprecedented. However, other religious and ethnic minorities in Myanmar have also faced many years of discrimination and violence. Therefore, this visit is a chance for the EU to shine a light on Myanmar’s disregard for human rights and international law. The EU has the means and experience to help ensure that further discrimination does not occur by holding those responsible to account.”