MEP calls for sanctions against Myanmar to protect Rohingyas

LONDON: Campaigning Member of European Parliament (MEP) Amjad Bashir is calling for comprehensive international sanctions against Myanmar in response to the persecution of the Rohingya Muslims in the West of the country.

An urgent resolution to go before the European Parliament on Thursday will press the European Union to consider all possible means of compelling the Myanmar Burmese authorities to halt the atrocities which have provoked a refugee crisis in neighbouring Bangladesh from fleeing Rohingyas.

Mr Bashir, Conservative MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber, is advocating a three-pronged international strategy to impose pressure on Naypyidaw. Firstly he seeks an immediate halt to any trade and investment discussions between Europe and Myanmar, as part of a reintroduction of sanctions on Myanmar in co-ordination with the United Nations.

Secondly he is urging the UK, along with the EU and its other member states, to make continued support of the government of Myanmar conditional on the lifting of "all unnecessary, discriminatory and disproportionate restrictions" in Rakhine State and on the Rohingya people.

Finally, he is advocating a renewed appeal to Sakharov Prize and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi to use her leadership position in Myanmar to condemn unequivocally the violence, murder and ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya minority.

Sanctions on Myanmar were removed in 2013 – since when human rights watchdogs have voiced mounting concern over a systematic campaign of ethnic cleansing on its minority population.

Mr Bashir recently highlighted the persecution of the Rohingyas in a report to the European Parliament on the plight of stateless peoples. He said: "The world is waking up to the horrors being visited upon the Rohingyas. This is ethnic cleansing in the 21st century.

"The time has come for sympathetic words to translate into firm action and that action must mean sanctions. "A trade mission from the European Parliament's International Trade Committee is scheduled to visit Myanmar next week. That must be halted right now. "I am all for trade and commerce, but we must put lives and people first. Where there is no fairness and dignity there can be no trade. Commerce cannot turn a blind eye to violence and cruelty."