UK UK gov’t urged to take steps to refer Myanmar to ICC

UK gov’t urged to take steps to refer Myanmar to ICC

Image result for Labour MP and the chair of the committee Stephen Twigg
Labour MP and the chair of the committee Stephen Twigg

 A committee of British lawmakers on Tuesday urged the U.K. government to “build an effective alliance across the international community” and work with allies to refer Myanmar to the International Criminal Court.

The British parliament’s cross-party International Development Committee released a report to suggest major policy changes in the government’s Burma [Myanmar] policy in the wake of atrocities against the country’s Muslim minority, known as the Rohingya Muslims.

“In the face of the ethnic cleansing, some argue genocide, of the Rohingya by the Burmese authorities—and with a return to attacks against ethnic groups in the North East of Burma — it is time for the DFID [Department for International Development] once again to review its engagement with Burma,” the report said.

“The U.K. government should adopt a frame of reference for relating to Burma that reflects that country’s deliberate, state-sanctioned long-term, ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya people which has resulted in huge costs, of all kinds, for the Rohingya, Bangladesh and the international community as well as potentially protracted and intractable displacement challenge on a huge scale,” it added.

The report said “in the face of atrocity crimes, ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya and continuing attacks against other ethnic groups, the U.K. can no longer continue with ‘business as usual’ in its interactions with Burma.”

It said “the actions and language of the U.K. towards Burma need to change in response to a regime which has carried out deliberate, state-sanctioned ethnic cleansing with devastating consequences for the Rohingya, Bangladesh and the international community”.

The committee called on the government and its allies “to gather support on referring Burma to the International Criminal Court and to apply targeted financial sanctions at key figures”.

“In response to this report we would like the U.K. government to set out how its support for U.K./Burma trade takes into account concerns about the Burmese military’s involvement in the economy and human rights abuses,” the report said.

“Burma must realize that there is a bill to pay for the actions of the Burmese army and the inaction of Burmese government and society,” Stephen Twigg, Labour MP and the chair of the committee, said.

Suu Kyi ‘part of problem’

“The dramatic changes to the situation in Burma must drive dramatic change in U.K. policy,” he said.

Twigg also said the British government needs to recognize that “Aung San Suu Kyi, a freed political prisoner and Nobel Peace Prize winner, had become de facto president,” and “she is becoming part of the problem”.

The parliamentary committee report praised Bangladesh’s efforts for the displaced Rohingya Muslims.

“We commend the generosity and compassion of Bangladesh’s authorities and local communities pursuing the open border policy for Rohingya people fleeing the violent ethnic cleansing campaign conducted by the Burmese army,” it said.

Since Aug. 25, 2017, some 750,000 Rohingya, mostly children and women, have fled Myanmar after Myanmar forces began a crackdown on the minority Muslim community, according to Amnesty International.

At least 9,000 Rohingya were killed in Rakhine state from Aug. 25 to Sept. 24, 2017, according to Doctors Without Borders.

In a report published last December, the global humanitarian group said the deaths of 71.7 percent or 6,700 Rohingya were caused by violence. They include 730 children below the age of 5.

The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world’s most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.

The UN has documented mass gang rapes, killings — including of infants and young children — brutal beatings, and disappearances committed by security personnel. In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.

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