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Jean Lambert London's Green MEP

Letter to The Times on the plight of the Rohingya people

The following letter from Jean was published in The Times on Thursday 20th September 2012:

Dear Sir,

Re: “Burma mosques bulldozed in ‘ethnic cleansing'”

You are right to highlight the appalling plight of the Rohingya people as a major stumbling block to a peaceful future for Burma, as reflected in the Resolution adopted by the European Parliament last week.

The latest moves are part of a continuing process that has been going on for years. Bangladesh has many thousands of Rohingya refugees living in one the country’s poorest areas; while some are registered and supported by UNHCR, with funding from the EU, others live in makeshift camps in dreadful conditions. The Bangladeshi Government has been reluctant to welcome more refugees as Burma has proved to be an unreliable partner in negotiations for a durable solution, preferring to follow a policy that effectively amounts to ethnic cleansing.

Neighbouring countries need to be supported as more Rohingya are forced out. That support should not only be financial but political in terms of a concerted effort by the international community to find a long-term settlement. Burma should recognise the Rohingya as full citizens with equal rights to other Burmese citizens, including the right to marry without state permission, rather than continue with the cat-and-mouse polices adopted to date.

The situation of the Rohingya is not the only issue of internal conflict Burma faces, but it is seemingly the one that the Government least wants to deal with in a positive manner.

Jean Lambert

Green MEP for London