The Plight of the ‘Boat People’: EU Urges Myanmar to Deal with Rohingya’s Dire Situation

Written by | Tuesday, July 12th, 2016

The European Parliament stood up to support Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslim minority, calling for Naypyidaw to end its, what it called, ”brutal repression” and “systematic persecution”. Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi promised earlier this year that her new cabinet was determined to address divisions and ethnic hatred in western Rakhine State, where tens of thousands members of the Rohingya are living in dire conditions in displacement camps, not allowed by the authorities to leave. The group has received international attention following unrests with the Buddhist majority in the so-called 2012 Rakhine State riots.

Despite Ms Kyi’s efforts, her government has been criticized for not sufficiently standing up for the community that is now displaced throughout Southeast Asia following the 2015 Rohingya refugee crisis, which saw mass migration of the Rohingya people from Myanmar and Bangladesh by rickety boats, which earned them the label – “boat people”. In the light of the riots and the subsequent refugee crisis, the situation of the Rohingya community has often been described by international media as one of the most persecuted minorities in the world.

The European Parliament has therefore expressed its deep concerns by passing a resolution urging Myanmar to deal with the situation: “Parliament reiterates its deep concern about the plight of Rohingya in Southeast Asia. This ethno-religious Muslim minority of about one million people is one of the world’s most persecuted minorities, officially stateless since the 1982 Burmese Citizenship Law and unwanted by the Myanmar authorities and by neighboring countries,” the assembly said in a resolution that decried the Rohingya’s “extremely vulnerable situation”.

European leaders added that the country must “as a matter of urgency ensure free and unimpeded access to Rakhine State, where some 120,000 Rohingya remain in more than 80 internal displacement camps, for humanitarian actors, the United Nations, international human rights organizations, journalists and other international observers”. Brussels also called on Suu Kyi’s pro-democracy cabinet to “condemn unequivocally all incitement to racial or religious hatred and implement specific measures and policies to prevent direct and indirect discrimination against the Rohingya in the future.”

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