On September 14th, the European Parliament adopted a strong resolution denouncing the crimes that are being committed against the Rohingya in Myanmar. The UN and many international NGOs have reported hundreds of thousands of people displaced, villages burnt down, systematic rape and torture, largely at the hands of the military. It is very important for the European Union to take action on this at an international level, and I would like to thank all those constituents and citizens who got in touch with me and my fellow MEPs to express their concern.
Since the beginning of my mandate I have worked to raise different cases of mass atrocities around the world, to highlight war crimes, and bring about peace and reconciliation. I am a founding member of the Elie Wiesel Network of Parliamentarians for the prevention of genocide and awareness of mass atrocities, and a member of Parliamentarians for Global Action, organisations which draw attention to human rights abuses and address the root causes of conflict.
The EU works to strengthen international political systems and civil society, supporting fragile states, and protecting human rights around the world, and we Socialists and Democrat Members of the European Parliament often have to push for stronger more ambitious European action. The leader of Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi, is not only a Noble Peace Prize laureate, but she also won the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in 1991; we now aim to revoke that prize.
European Member States and the European Union have a responsibility to act in order to ensure the protection of populations in danger, no matter where they are. We therefore call for pressure to be put on the authorities of Myanmar to protect the lives and culture of the Rohingya and respect their rights.
This means the EU taking action to pressure Myanmar in terms of ensuring trade and investment goes hand in hand with human rights. We must provide aid to those who need it, and organise safe asylum for refugees. The international community, led by a resolute EU, needs to investigate what is happening and bring perpetrators to justice. We also need a long term process of peace-building, inter-cultural dialogue and reconciliation.
Situations such as this demonstrate why we need a unified EU that will promote and protect human rights and peace in the world. I hope the British government will do all it can to contribute to that combined effort."
Last week Julie also signed an international call for the protection of the Rohingyas by the Elie Wiesel Network, which is signed by 197 cross-party parliamentarians of Europe across 25 countries. You can find it with the global list of the signatories here: http://www.egam.eu/call-of-parliamentarians-of-europe-for-the-protection-of-rohingyas/
It has been sent to the authorities of Myanmar, the heads of European states and the leaders of the EU, as well as to the media. The powerful words of Elie Wiesel are particularly relevant: “Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented."