Commentary. The Elie Wiesel Network of parliamentarians of Europe demand to the authorities of Myanmar and Europe to protect the Rohingya. “Pressure on the army [and] Aung San Suu Kyi is necessary.”

Sanctions if necessary on Myanmar, European lawmakers say

Killings, torture, rape, evictions, destruction of religious places, burning entire villages… The atrocities committed against the Rohingya in Myanmar since the Aug. 25 constitute an ethnic cleansing, if not worse.

It’s been seven months since the beginning of operations by Myanmar’s army, and now the international attention has faded. But for the more than 680,000 refugees in Bangladesh and 120,000 internally displaced persons the situation remains alarming.

This situation requires determined actions, in emergency as well as in the long term. The fundamental issues are mainly on two levels: humanitarian and political.

In humanitarian terms, the Rohingya today still suffer from the material, social, educational, health and psychological consequences of the atrocities committed against them, while the approaching monsoon season makes them even more vulnerable.

So that the vitally needed aid reaches the refugee camps in Bangladesh, the international community must continue and intensify its engagement.

The second Pledging Conference for the Rohingya Refugee Crisis will be held on March 14 in Geneva. The objective is to raise $940 million to cover the humanitarian needs from March until December 2018. The previous conference raised $360 million of the $434 million needed.

We call on the states, of which we are parliamentarians, the European Union and the rest of the international community, to take their responsibility and contribute to this fund in order to achieve its objective of $940 million.

In political terms, an agreement was signed on Nov. 23 between Bangladesh and Myanmar for the repatriation of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar within two years. A first list of some 8,000 volunteers was created on Jan. 16, and they still await the validation of Myanmar.

How can we ensure the access of humanitarian actors to internally displaced persons who do not receive the humanitarian assistance they urgently need? How can we guarantee the survival and security to Rohingya in Myanmar when they have been victims of discrimination for decades and the while the army, who controls the power, is the main responsible for the recent violent persecutions?

These guarantees are essential to allow the return of the refugees and internally displaced persons to their homes, and to ensure that it does not mean further violations of their rights or the risk of new mass atrocities.

Therefore, pressure on the army, and on the Special State Counsellor and Spokesperson of the President Aung San Suu Kyi, is necessary.

We call on the states, of which we are parliamentarians, on the European Union and on the rest of the international community, to adopt sanctions if all necessary guarantees for the protection of Rohingya are not fulfilled, and to make sure that those responsible for the ethnic cleansing are held accountable for their crimes.

It is our common the responsibility to act in order to ensure the protection of Rohingya, to prevent the worsening of their already terrible situation, and to allow them to have perspectives for the future.

Benjamin Abtan is coordinator of the Elie Wiesel Network of parliamentarians of Europe and president of the European Grassroots Antiracist Movement, EGAM.


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