Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Persecution of Rohingya Muslims in Burma

Delivered in Plenary - 13th September 2012

Mr President

Burma has surprised the world in the past two years, moving dramatically away from military-governed authoritarianism and towards greater openness and democracy.

However, this commendable development should not distract us from the plight of the Rohingya Muslim minority. Rohingyas have lived in Burma for centuries, yet they suffer from institutionalised discrimination and have had terrible violence directed at them in recent years. They are amongst the poorest and most marginalised of the country’s 48 million people. Indeed many Rohingyas have escaped Burma or tried to flee. There are some 300 000 Rohingya refugees living in neighbouring Bangladesh, which is a very poor country and ill-equipped to handle this influx and provide even the most basic assistance, but they do their very best. The border is an open one with no formal crossings in the jungle areas.

I commend the efforts of the Burmese Government on behalf of my Group, the ECR, to try to end the violence directed against Rohingyas, but it is time now for the authorities in Rangoon to move from words to action. In the long term, this means building an inclusive society based on dialogue and genuine democracy, the rule of law and equal rights for all Burmese people. This is not the first time in this Parliament that we have debated the fate of the Rohingya people in Burma, but I sincerely hope it will be the last.