INTERVISTA – EU needs to reassess ties with Myanmar

The mass exodus of Rohingyas in the face of persecution makes it necessary for the European Union to reassess its relations with Myanmar, Members of the European Parliament (MEP) has said.

“The EU must reconsider its relationship with Myanmar and develop new policies based on incentives and disincentives in each sector as well as robust conditions,” MEPs said in a press statement after their visit to Bangladesh and Myanmar on February 12-16.

A delegation from the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights (DROI), joined by Foreign Affairs and Trade Committee MEPs as well as Members of the ASEAN Delegation visited Myanmar and the Bangladesh borders.

The delegation in its statement also said there is a need for an independent international investigation into the mass atrocities, which have been committed in Rakhine since August 2017 in order to ensure accountability and avoid impunity.

It also stressed the need for effective monitoring of the human rights situation in Myanmar as well as unhindered humanitarian access to Rakhine state.

The European Parliamentary delegation further called for full implementation of the November 23, 2017 arrangement on repatriation of the Rohingyas between Bangladesh and Myanmar with guarantees including a strong involvement of the UNHCR and amendment of the 1982 law on citizenship to resolve the problem of the stateless population.

“The European Parliament has had concerns about the human rights situation in Myanmar and after a five-day visit these concerns remain as the human rights situation is clearly deteriorating in various regions of the country and affecting many diverse cultural, ethnic and religious groups, human rights defenders and journalists,” said Pier Antonio Panzeri, the chair of the delegation.

This is shown by the issue of the Rohingya people, who are being driven out of their land, persecuted, and even killed, he added.

The delegation also visited the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh which are sheltering the Rohingya population in dire conditions after their mass exodus.

On Myanmar visit, the statement said the MEPs held meetings with the civil society organisations and religious leaders who confirmed the great difficulties that the democratic transition is facing. The EP delegation also met ministers including the minister of defence and parliamentarians.

The delegation supports the democratic transition process and considers it a fundamental pillar for a reform policy to ensure the country achieves what it deserves, a democratic development based on respect for fundamental freedoms and rights.

Unfortunately, the EP Statement said, the current situation does not allow them to be confident of this objective being achieved, since the ongoing process has slowed down and there is a serious risk of returning to the past.

“In our view it would be in the interest of Myanmar to speed up democratic and constitutional reforms to deliver better lives for its people,” said the press statement issued on Saturday.

The EP delegation, headed by Panzeri, Chair of the DROI Subcommittee, was composed of Joachim Zeller, Soraya Post, Amjad Bashir, Barbara Lochbiler, from the Committee on Foreign Affairs Jo Leinen and Urmas Paet, from the Committee on International Trade David Martin, and from the Delegation for relations with the countries of Southeast Asia and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Marc Tarabella.

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