EU Council meets Monday: More pressure likely on Myanmar

EU Council meets Monday: More pressure likely on Myanmar

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The European Union is likely to come up with “restrictive measures” against Myanmar generals as the Foreign Ministers of European countries sit on Monday in Brussels.

The Foreign Affairs Council of the European Union will begin at 9am with a discussion on current affairs, allowing ministers to review pressing issues on international agenda, an official told UNB.

The Council is expected to adopt a number of conclusions without debate, including a conclusion on Myanmar, the official said.

The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini will chair the council.

Bangladesh is also expecting a ‘very strong message’ from the EU so that Myanmar creates conditions for the safe and dignified return of Rohingyas from Bangladesh to Myanmar.

“We expect a stronger message from the EU asking Myanmar authorities to take necessary steps to ensure conditions for the safe and dignified return of Rohingyas,” a senior official told UNB on Saturday.

Earlier, the EU Head of Delegation in Dhaka Ambassador Rensje Teerink also indicated exerting more pressure on Myanmar so that it acts promptly and creates an environment for the sustainable return of Rohingyas to their homeland from Bangladesh.

“I hope there’ll be more pressure. The only thing is to put more pressure on Myanmar,” Ambassador Rensje Teerink told UNB last month.

In October last year, the Council of the EU in its conclusions said it may consider additional measures if the situation does not improve but also stands ready to respond accordingly to positive developments.

However, it is yet to know what the conclusions will contain — whether it will be arms embargo or targeted sanctions on Myanmar government and army.

Diplomatic sources said the European Union might take preparations to impose sanctions against Myanmar generals over killings of Rohingya Muslims.

The Foreign Ministers are likely to urge Federica Mogherini to propose restrictive measures on senior members of the Myanmar military for systematic human rights abuses.

The mass exodus of Rohingya people following human rights violations makes it necessary for the European Union (EU) to reassess its relationship with Myanmar, said European parliament members after visiting Myanmar last week.

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, they said in a press statement.

Meanwhile, over 100 British Parliamentarians have said it is time for the UK to state that Myanmar’s military should be referred to ICC for their appalling ‘security operations’ against the Rohingya, described as ethnic cleansing and possibly genocide by OHCHR.

It is time for the British government to unequivocally state that the situation in Myanmar should be referred to the International Criminal Court, they added.

The Parliamentarians wrote to British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on Wednesday seeking measures in line with their call.

“Further, the time is long overdue for the imposition of a UN-mandated global arms embargo against Myanmar,” the letter reads.

It mentioned that they must work to build an international consensus to convince China and Russia for their positive role in the UN Security Council.

“This process should start the British government ensuring that the European Union announces support for a referral to the ICC in its conclusions on February 26,” the letter adds.

“I’ve sent a letter to the Foreign Secretary signed by over 100 Parliamentarians calling for an ICC referral for Myanmar’s military general Min Aung Hlaing,” Rushanara Ali MP wrote on her Facebook wall sharing the letter.

The United Nations has now documented more than 688,000 Rohingyas who have fled to Bangladesh since the Myanmar military began their offensive against Rohingya civilians in August 2017.

Medecins Sans Frontieres has recently documented almost 7,000 Rohingya civilians killed in just one month last year, including 730 children. They believe this figure is likely to be significantly higher than their initial estimates.

Bangladesh has urged the international community to remain vocal for justice for the victims of the atrocities in Rakhine State of Myanmar.

“We remain engaged internationally,” an official told UNB narrating the atrocities committed on the Rohingyas and the systematic flushing out of the Rohingya population by the Myanmar authorities through violence and rape.

On Thursday, India and Canada called for voluntary, safe and sustainable repatriation of Rohingyas from Bangladesh to Myanmar and allowing of United Nations and other international organisations to facilitate the process.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau discussed the humanitarian and security crisis in Rakhine State of Myanmar and across the border in Bangladesh during a meeting at Hyderabad.

On January 16, Bangladesh and Myanmar signed a document on ‘Physical Arrangement’ which will facilitate the return of Rohingyas to their homeland from Bangladesh.

The ‘Physical Arrangement’ stipulates that the repatriation will be completed preferably within two years from the start of repatriation.

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