EU urged to pressure Burma on Rohingya crisis

10 Nov 2017

CSW is calling for the EU to pressure Burmas authorities to end the violence against the Rohingya.

As EU Foreign Ministers meet on 13 November to discuss the continuing humanitarian and human rights crisis in Rakhine State, Burma, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) is calling for action to pressure Burma’s authorities to end the violence.

Since 25 August, Burma’s military has conducted a campaign of violence targeting the predominantly Muslim Rohingya population in northern Rakhine, resulting in over 600,000 civilians fleeing to neighbouring Bangladesh. The UN Secretary-General has called it a ‘catastrophe’ and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has described as a ‘textbook example of ethnic cleansing.’ Thousands have reported horrific human rights violations including rape, killing and burning of villages. There are also reports of babies killed and children being shot dead.

CSW’s Europe Team Leader, Dr Susan Kerr, said: “Three months have passed and insufficient action has been taken to prevent the atrocities occurring in Burma; instead, perpetrators continue to act with impunity. It is appalling that people, including children, are still needlessly suffering and dying. The EU cannot miss another opportunity to help stop the violence. It must act now with a united front across the Member States to send a strong and clear message to Burma’s military that they cannot continue to kill, rape and destroy the homes of civilians without consequence. The Rohingya are relying on the international community; the EU must not let them down.”

When EU Foreign Ministers met to discuss the crisis on 16 October, they condemned the violence, agreed to ‘suspend invitations’ to senior members of the armed forces and resolved to ‘consider further measures if the situation does not improve.’

Since then, conditions for Rohingya have deteriorated further. Severe restrictions on humanitarian access to Rakhine State imposed by Burmese authorities are exacerbating the situation of approximately 120,000 people, who remain confined in squalid camps. Burmese authorities continue to deny access to the UN-mandated Fact-Finding Mission and to other human rights monitors. Media access is restricted, making documentation of violations inside Burma extremely difficult.

Dr Kerr added: “CSW calls on the EU Foreign Affairs Council and for the EU at the upcoming ASEAN-EU summit to demand that Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, Commander-in-Chief of the Burma military, order his troops to end their campaign of ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity against the Rohingya. We also urge the EU to support a UN-mandated arms embargo and to extend the existing EU arms embargo to include all maintenance, assistance, training and cooperation with the Burma army, in addition to leading efforts to bring a new resolution to the UN General Assembly to address this crisis.”

“We call on the government of Burma to allow unhindered access for international humanitarian aid organisations, human rights monitors and media to all affected areas. And while the current focus is rightly on the crisis on the Bangladesh border, we also call on the EU to note the continuing severe violations of human rights in Kachin and northern Shan states, and the increasing campaign of religious nationalism, intolerance and hatred throughout the country.” 

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