EU urges UNSC sanctions against Myanmar human rights violators

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Rohingya refugees gathering behind a barbed-wire fence in a temporary settlement setup in a ‘no man’s land’ border zone between Myanmar and Bangladesh last year. YE AUNG THU/AFP

The European Parliament has called on the UN Security Council to adopt targeted sanctions against those responsible for human rights violations in Myanmar.

It also called on the Council to refer the situation in Myanmar to the International Criminal Court (ICC). So far, the UN Security Council has been divided over any concrete action against Myanmar for opposition of veto powers – China and Russia.

The European Parliament adopted a resolution with 546 votes in favour, 12 against and 94 abstentions on Thursday on “Myanmar, notably the situation of the Rohingya”.

Over 730,000 Rohingyas fled brutal military crackdown in Myanmar’s Rakhine state since August 2017, which according to the UN independent investigators, amounts to genocide and crimes against humanity.

The Rohingyas took shelter in Bangladesh, and two attempts of repatriation failed as the refugees said the guarantee of citizenship and safety was not ensured.

The remaining 600,000 Rohingya in Rakhine still face the threats of genocide, according to the UN investigators.

They are subjected to ongoing discriminatory policies and practices, systematic violations basic rights, while there are tight military controls in place limiting access to aid agencies and media in Rakhine.

On April 29 this year, the EU extended a ban on selling arms to Myanmar and prolonged sanctions against high-ranking officials over their role in the Rohingya crisis.

The embargo on weapons and other equipment that could be used for repression would stay in place until at least April 30, 2020.

In Thursday’s resolution, Members of European Parliament (MEPs) expressed grave concern about the ongoing and long-lasting conflict and called upon Myanmar government and the security forces to immediately stop the violations.

They also welcomed the ICC decision to open a preliminary investigation into crimes under the Court’s jurisdiction committed against the Rohingya population since 2016. The European Parliament has also called on Myanmar to cooperate with the ICC and become a signatory of the Rome Statute of the ICC.

It reiterated its call for the EU and its Member States to take lead on the UN Security Council on the request to refer the situation in Myanmar to the ICC, and support efforts to open a case on Myanmar’s possible violation of the UN Genocide Convention before the International Court of Justice.

MEPs reiterated calls from the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the Member States to seek accountability in multilateral fora for the perpetrators of crimes in Myanmar, while calling on Myanmar to cooperate with international efforts to ensure accountability.

They also called on Bangladesh authorities to guarantee full access to quality education for Rohingya children, to lift restrictions on access to the internet and to freedom of movement, and to ensure that the security forces operating in the camps uphold all standards to protect refugees’ personal security.

The European Parliament observed financial responsibility for assisting the refugee population should not fall disproportionately on Bangladesh and called for further international support for those communities hosting the refugees.