With thousands of the minority Muslim Rohingyas displaced in neighbouring Bangladesh amidst the military crackdown by the Myanmar authorities, MEPs took the floor at the European Parliament to condemn the action of the government and to call on the EU for decisive action over what some have described as ‘ethnic-cleansing’.
Speaking about the dire situation where NGOs have reported entire villages being destroyed by the army of Myanmar, GUE/NGL Coordinator at the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights Marie-Christine Vergiat was in no doubt that urgent action is needed from the international community:
“A report by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in June 2016 condemned the arbitrary deprivation of the Rohingyas’ nationality, threats to their lives and security, denial of their most basic rights such as health and education, forced labor, sexual violence as well as limitations on their political rights.”
“Since March 2015, the Rohingyas have also been deprived of their ‘white card’(provisional identity card). Meanwhile, birth certificates haven’t been issued to children since 2012 and that makes them stateless people,” she said.
Vergiat continued by reasoning that the Rohingyas have not only been failed by Myanmar’s opposition party and other countries in the region but the international community as a whole:
“The National League for Democracy and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s ‘special advisor’ role to the Myanmar government has changed nothing.”
“Neighbouring countries like Bangladesh are systematically rejecting the Rohingyas whilst Thailand is instrumentalising the situation by condemning the ‘genocide’ whilst persecuting them at the same time with Malaysia.”
“The establishment of a working committee under Kofi Annan on development issues in Rakhine state offers a glimmer of hope provided that its remit includes addressing the human rights violations.”
“The same is also true of the peace talks that will take place in February 2017 provided the Rohingyas are allowed to take part as citizens of Myanmar,” she said.
In conclusion, Vergiat asked for an independent commission to be set up to investigate the most recent crimes against the Rohingyas and that the EU must establish dialogue with the Myanmar authorities:
“We cannot stay silent. It is up to the European institutions to use all their means to put an end to the discrimination and the massacres of the Rohingyas,” she implored.