S&Ds in Myanmar and Bangladesh: persecution of Rohingya cannot remain unpunished

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S&D MEPs travelled last week to Myanmar and Bangladesh to examine the human rights and humanitarian situation of the Rohingya. The Rohingya have been subject to horrific human rights abuses in Myanmar, with testimonies of systemic rape of women and girls, burning of villages and mass killings. Consequently, hundreds of thousands have fled into neighbouring Bangladesh.

The S&D members present were part of delegations from the Parliament’s foreign affairs committee, the subcommittee on human rights, and the South Asia Delegation. The MEPs present were Antonio Panzeri, Soraya Post, Marc Tarabella, Jo Leinen, David Martin, Richard Corbett and Wajid Khan. The MEPs visited refugee camps, met with members of the Bangladeshi government, NGOs, and the authorities in Myanmar.

S&D MEP Antonio Panzeri, chair of the Parliament’s human rights subcommittee said:

"The stories of what the Rohingya have faced in Myanmar are truly harrowing. We have seen a consistent and extreme violation of fundamental human rights over a long period of time. Myanmar will never become a true democracy unless the authorities begin to respect the human rights of all people in the country.

“The EU has granted Myanmar various concessions over the last few years, such as duty and quota free access for Myanmar's exports. This is not unconditional; if the human rights situation in the country does not improve then this privileged access should be reconsidered.”

Soraya Post MEP, S&D Group spokesperson for human rights said:

“Talk of repatriating hundreds of thousands of refugees in the near future is premature. Despite the bilateral agreement between Bangladesh and Myanmar, there is no guarantee of the voluntary, safe and sustainable return of people. From our meetings with the authorities in Myanmar it is still clear there is an outspoken hatred toward the Rohingya and our first priority must be protecting lives.

“There should be no impunity for human rights violations in Myanmar. We need to see a full independent international investigation to look into the mass atrocities committed in Rakhine State since August 2017.”

S&D MEP Richard Corbett, vice-chair of the Parliament’s Delegation for relations with the countries of South Asia, added:

“Bangladesh has opened its borders in the face of this crisis and offered a lifeline to the hundreds and thousands fleeing Rohingya. The international community must continue to support the humanitarian response with financial and technical assistance. The burden cannot fall to Bangladesh alone to deal with this crisis. It is imperative that the EU along with the UN and other international donors urgently adapts the camps before the monsoon season begins: around 100,000 refugees are in immediate danger of flooding, landslides and communicable diseases once the rainy season starts.”