EU to cut ties with Myan­mar mil­i­tary over Ro­hingya cri­sis

Re­pres­sion a strat­egy to up­root Ro­hingya, says UN

Arab News - - INTERNATIONAL -

BRUS­SELS/GENEVA: The EU is to halt ties with se­nior Myan­mar mil­i­tary chiefs to protest the “dis­pro­por­tion­ate use of force” against the Ro­hingya mi­nor­ity, while the UN has re­vealed that at­tacks against the Mus­lims point to a strat­egy to pre­vent them from ever re­turn­ing to their homes.

Ac­cord­ing to an agree­ment seen by AFP on Wednesday, the EU bloc has also warned it could con­sider sanc­tions if there is no im­prove­ment in the cri­sis, in which more than half-a-mil­lion Ro­hingya Mus­lims have fled a mil­i­tary crack­down into Bangladesh since Au­gust, a sit­u­a­tion the UN says likely amounts to eth­nic cleans­ing.

The agree­ment, ap­proved by EU am­bas­sadors and set to be signed off at a meet­ing of for­eign min­is­ters on Mon­day, said the rapid flight of so many peo­ple “strongly in­di­cates a de­lib­er­ate ac­tion to ex­pel a mi­nor­ity.”

“In the light of the dis­pro­por­tion­ate use of force car­ried out by the se­cu­rity forces, the EU and its mem­ber states will sus­pend in­vi­ta­tions to the com­man­der-in-chief of the Myan­mar/Burma armed forces and se­nior mil­i­tary of­fi­cers and re­view all prac­ti­cal de­fense co­op­er­a­tion,” the agree­ment says, while call­ing on all sides to end vi­o­lence im­me­di­ately.

The EU cur­rently bans the ex­port of arms and equip­ment that can be used for “in­ter­nal re­pres­sion,” but said it “may con­sider ad­di­tional mea­sures” if the cri­sis does not im­prove.

The in­flux of refugees into poor and over­pop­u­lated Bangladesh slowed in re­cent weeks but ap­pears to have picked up again, with an es­ti­mated 11,000 new ar­rivals on Mon­day.

A de­lib­er­ate ploy

A re­port by the UN hu­man rights of­fice said at­tacks against Ro­hingya in Myan­mar point to a strat­egy to in­still “wide­spread fear and trauma” and pre­vent them from ever re­turn­ing to their homes.

The re­port re­leased Wednesday is based on 65 in­ter­views con­ducted in mid-Septem­ber with Ro­hingya, in­di­vid­u­ally and in groups, as more the half a mil­lion peo­ple from the eth­nic group fled into Bangladesh dur­ing a vi­o­lent crack­down in Myan­mar.

The at­tacks against Ro­hingya in Myan­mar’s north­ern Rakhine state by se­cu­rity forces and Bud­dhist mobs were “co­or­di­nated and sys­tem­atic,” with the in­tent of not only driv­ing the pop­u­la­tion out of Myan­mar but pre­vent­ing them from re­turn­ing, the re­port said.

Some of those in­ter­viewed said that be­fore and dur­ing at­tacks, mega­phones were used to an­nounce: “You do not be­long here — go to Bangladesh. If you do not leave, we will torch your houses and kill you.”

A Ro­hingya child uses his food bowl to shel­ter him­self from the sun at the Palangkhali refugee camp in Ukhia dis­trict on Wednesday. (AFP)

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