Mairead McGuinness MEP and Vice President of the European Parliament with responsibility for religious dialogue has condemned the violence being perpetrated against the Rohingya Muslims in Burma/Myanmar. McGuinness further called on all EU leaders to condemn the acts and to work with the international community to bring an end to the atrocities and provide humanitarian assistance for the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees.
“The violence unleashed by the Burmese security forces on 25 August, following coordinated terrorist attacks on 30 police posts in Rakhine State, has continued unabated for three weeks now. Reports received by the UN tell of indiscriminate attacks against unarmed civilians including women and children. Whole villages have been burnt to the ground and we are receiving images of a human trail of misery across the border into neighbouring Bangladesh. This ethnic and religious minority has been rendered stateless since the 1982 Burmese Citizenship Law of the then-ruling military dictatorship.
McGuinness underlined that the European Parliament has consistently supported Burma on its journey to democracy, but described as "unacceptable" that one million Rohingyas living there continue to be deprived of citizenship.
"Last week, UN Secretary General Antonio Gutteres called for this root cause of the problem to be resolved by giving legal status to the Rohingyas. We have seen from our own European history that depriving people of their statehood and citizenship is the start of a process of dehumanisation which can ultimately lead to depriving them of their fundamental human rights," said McGuinness.
“Aung San Suu Kyi is the de-facto leader of Burma, having been elected to power with a huge majority in the Burmese national assembly, albeit under a flawed constitution written by the army which reserves considerable powers to themselves. In October 2013 she came to the European Parliament here in Strasbourg to receive her Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, 23 years after it was awarded due to being imprisoned and under house arrest by the Burmese military.
“I attended that ceremony and listened with emotion while she spoke to us passionately of her hope for a Burma where human rights are respected. Aung San Suu Kyi also conceded that Burma’s transition to democracy was far from complete and that the Burmese constitution needed to be reformed so that all Burmese could live in freedom according to their conscience. We understand the enormous difficulties she faces in trying to steer Burma further along that path, in trying to bring under civilian control an army habituated to decades of brutal and ruthless power."
MEP McGuinness urged Aung San Suu Kyi to speak out against the violence, which is taking place on the territory of the country she governs; where according to the UNHCR over 270,000 people have fled into Bangladesh in less than three weeks.
"At the same time, EU leaders need to pressure the Burmese authorities to end the violence, ensure that the Rohingyas receive the necessary humanitarian assistance, and are guaranteed the right to return safely to their homes. The international community should make clear that its support for Aung San Suu Kyi and her Government is not unconditional, that the military operations must end, and that the perpetrators of these crimes must be brought to justice," she added.