EU to suspend invitations to Myanmar’s military leaders, review defence ties over Rohingya issue

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International desk, October 16: The European Union (EU) will suspend invitations to Myanmar’s military leaders and review defence cooperation with Myanmar in light of the latter’s disproportionate use of force against the Rohingya minority, EU Foreign Ministers said on Monday.The council also underlined the relevance of current EU restrictions on Myanmar that include an embargo on weapons and equipment, which, according to them, could be used for internal repression, Efe news reported.

“There are deeply worrying reports of continuing arson and violence against people and serious human rights violations, including indiscriminate firing of weapons, the presence of landmines and sexual and gender based violence,” the ministers said in a statement after a meeting of the EU Council.

“This is not acceptable and must end immediately,” the statement by the ministers said.

It added that the EU could consider adopting further measures against Myanmar if the situation failed to improve but added that it was also ready to respond accordingly to positive developments.

The statement also urged Myanmar to implement the recommendations of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine state, especially “the crucial issue of citizenship for the stateless Rohingya population”.

Myanmar currently does not recognise the Rohingyas, some of whom have lived in the country through generations, as citizens.

They also refuse to call them Rohingyas and instead refer to them as Bangladeshi immigrants and impose multiple limitations including restrictions on their movement within the country.

The ministers also urged all sides to put an immediate end to violence and appealed to the Myanmar Army to end its military offensive in Rakhine and ensure protection of all civilians without any discrimination.

It urged the Myanmar government to calm tensions between communities and allow unconditional and safe humanitarian access to the region and ensure sustainable return of the Rohingyas who fled their homes as a result of the military offensive.

In the statement, the council also said that the EU had stepped up humanitarian aid to Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and was ready to extend help in Rakhine if granted access.

Source: Agencies