European Rohingya Organisations Jointly Lobbied on Current white card issue, full citizenship, IDP aid, and International investigation issue in Brussels
March 27, 2015
According to the mandate given by the "First European Rohingya Conference" held in Denmark last December, a delegation of 3 Rohingya representatives travelled to Brussels to lobby the European Commission, European Parliament and other related institutions. The delegation was comprised of Tun Khin, President of Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK, Sazaat Ahammed from Netherlands, and Sayed Hussein, Chairman of Rohingya Organisation Norway.
On the first day of the event the delegation briefed the Swedish permanent representative to EU, Netherlands permanent representative to the EU, and the US mission delegation.
On the second day the European Rohingya delegates briefed Top Officials from South East Asia European External Action Service, Officials from Foreign Affairs External Policies European Parliament, Sub Committee on Human Rights and Director General from External Policies, Jean Lambert Member of European Parliament.
During the third day the delegation met MEP (Member of the European Parliament) Afzal Khan MEP David Martin, Director General from European Commission Humanitarian aid Office (ECHO).
The European Rohingya delegation strongly emphasized updates of the situation of the Rohingya people of Arakan. The delegates specifically highlighted in particular the revoking of white cards (resident IDs) and lost rights of the Rohingya. They urged the European Union to put pressure on the Burmese government to stop its plan to subject the Rohingya to the so-called national verification process which requires them to identify themselves as Bengalis. They also stressed the need to allow them continue their right of integration by granting them full citizenship with their ethnic identity as ‘Rohingya’.
The delegation pinpointed that the humanitarian crisis in Rakhine State and impoverishment of the Rohingya is part of a long-term policy of repression of the ethnic Rohingya which has been stepped up since the reform process began in 2011. As a result of Burmese government policies, actions and inaction, almost one million ethnic Rohingya are in dire need of humanitarian assistance. 160,000 of these are living in squalid camps in Rakhine State. The delegation stressed that as the EU is a major aid donor to also provide more aid to Rohingya IDPS and urged the European Union to support Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to personally take the lead in negotiating international humanitarian access. A similar effort in 2008 after Cyclone Nargis succeeded in increasing humanitarian access.
The delegation brought to the attention of the European Parliament members how the commission established by the Burmese government of Burma failed to address issues of accountability and justice. It is clear that the government of Burma is not willing to conduct a genuine investigation into the cause of the violence, to establish who was responsible for inciting and organizing the violence, and to hold those who organized and took part in the attacks to account. An independent international investigation will not only help establish the truth, but also help prevent further attacks by ensuring for the first time that those responsible will fear being held accountable. Recommendations can also be made to prevent further violence.
Moreover the delegation suggested that those inciting hatred and violence are well known in Burma, but no action has been taken against them. President Thein Sein has supported those individuals who are also inciting violence. The Delegation Urged the EU to put strong pressure to stop hate speech against Rohingyas and other minorities of Burma. The Delegation also spoke of how Rohingya community and political leaders, are subject to arbitrary arrest, detention, and harassment in Myanmar. Prisoners of conscience in Myanmar remain at risk of torture and other forms of ill-treatment. The delegation urged the EU to put pressure on President Thein Sein and the Burmese government immediately and unconditionally to release a group of five Rohingya prisoners of conscience being held in Sittwe prison.
The Delegation stressed that Rohingya people are leaving Arakan in hundreds every day by taking extremely dangerous sea-journeys to escape persecution by Burmese authorities. Currently 10% of population have been driven out by the government of Burma and the crisis should stop by EU pressure immediately. Rohingyas are facing a slow burning genocide and international presence is immediately needed to protect the Rohingyas of Arakan, The delegation also urged European countries to resettle those Rohingyas refugees to their countries.