Calling for action on the Rohingya crisis

I have co-signed the following letter to the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs calling for urgent action on the Rohingya refugee crisis. Labour MEPs Wajid Khan and Richard Corbett recently visited the refugee camps in Bangladesh. There is little doubt that this massive ethnic cleansing is one of the greatest crimes against humanity we have seen in this young century. The situation will get much worst when the monsoon rains hit the area soon. Action on a world-wide scale is now required to avoid further catastrophe.

Dear High Representative / Vice President Mogherini,

We are writing to you ahead of the Foreign Affairs Council meeting on 26-27 February, which will take place exactly 6 months after the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar begun.

Since 25th August 2017, around 700,000 Rohingya refugees have crossed the border from Myanmar to seek shelter in Bangladesh. The UN says the Rohingya's situation is the "world's fastest growing refugee crisis" and describes the Myanmar military offensive as a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing" bearing “the hallmarks of a genocide”.

According to recent research by Amnesty International[1], the Myanmar security forces’ devastating campaign against the Rohingya population is far from over, and there are ongoing violations that have forced hundreds more people to flee in recent weeks. This means that the agreed return of the refugees back to Myanmar is premature.

Therefore, we urge you to take additional measures as called for by the European Parliament in its resolution on the situation of the Rohingya people of 14 December 2017. In particular, we believe it is of the utmost importance that the EU Foreign Affairs Ministers adopt the following measures in order to exert significant pressure on Myanmar’s military to stop the violence:

  • Condemn the ongoing violence, grave human rights abuses and loss of lives, livelihoods and shelter in Rakhine, Kachin and Shan States;
    Explicitly acknowledge that most likely crimes against humanity have been committed by the Myanmar security forces;
  • Impose travel bans and financial sanctions against those responsible for perpetrating criminal acts in Myanmar, including military commanders and senior officers, as requested in the Parliament’s resolutions of September and December 2017;
  • Suspend military assistance programmes, extend the scope of the existing arms embargo against Myanmar, and support the establishment of a UN-mandated global arms embargo;
  • Insist on immediate, unfettered and sustained humanitarian access to all people in need in Rakhine State and on access for the UN Fact-Finding Mission to carry out its mandate of conducting investigations into human rights violations;
  • Press the Myanmar Government to refer jurisdiction over grave human rights crimes committed since August 25, 2017 to the International Criminal Court, as a court of last resort under Art. 12(3) (acceptance of (ad hoc) jurisdiction under the Rome Statute) and urge the government to ratify the Rome Statute; explore all avenues for justice and accountability;
  • Insist that if any returns of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar do take place these are voluntary, dignified, safe and informed, with full UNHCR and OHCHR oversight of the process and fully compliant with international law;
  • Support the full implementation of the Rakhine Advisory Commission report;
  • Increase financial and material assistance to support durable solutions for refugees, making sure that the assistance is conditioned on non-discrimination, non-segregation and equality;
  • Pursue an EU long-term strategy in supporting the self-reliance and improved protection of Rohingya in Bangladesh, e.g. by ending limitations on their freedom of movement, improving access to livelihoods opportunities and job markets, ensuring children’s access to education; and providing for civil documentation with a view to securing status;
  • Call for the freedom of speech to be respected, for an immediate release of the Reuters journalists and urge Myanmar to bring its legislation on freedom of expression in line with international human rights law and standards.

We hope to be able to count on your support in this crucial matter.

Yours sincerely,

Wajid Khan MEP
Barbara Lochbihler MEP
Pier Antonio Panzeri MEP
Soraya Post MEP
David Martin MEP
Richard Corbett MEP
Amjad Bashir MEP
Urmas Paet MEP
Lucy Anderson MEP
Giacomo Zucchelli MEP
Miguel Alexandre Da Horta Cardoso MEP
Rory Palmer MEP
Margrete Auken MEP
Jude Kirton-Darling MEP
Jordi Solé MEP
Linda McAvan MEP
Hilde Vautmans MEP
Alyn Smith MEP
Baroness Nosheena Mobarik MEP
Clare Moody MEP
Bart Staes MEP
Mark Demesmaeker MEP
Barbara Spinelli MEP
Judith Sargentini MEP
Jose Inacio Faria MEP
Josef Weidenholzer MEP
Theresa Griffin MEP
Mary Honeyball MEP
John Howarth MEP
Maria Arena MEP
Maria Dolores Lola Sanchez Caldentey MEP
Dietmar Koster MEP
Margot Parker MEP
Arndt Kohn MEP
Goffredo Bettini MEP
Marie-Christine Vergiat MEP
Ernest Urtasun MEP
Younous Omarjee MEP
Sirpa Pietikäinen MEP