Rushanara Ali, Labour MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, on Tuesday called for the British Parliament to support the UNHCR statement that termed the treatment of the Rohingya by Myanmar military as a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.
The Labour MP made the statement while speaking at a debate on the Rohingya and Myanmar government, organised at the House of Commons in London.
Rushanara co-sponsored the application for the debate along with Anne Margaret Main, Conservative MP for St Albans.
“There are now almost 1 million Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh: the 582,000 (who fled Myanmar since August 25 this year) joined the 400,000 who had already fled there following previous periods of targeted attacks, notably in 2012 and 2016. There is a further influx of refugees from Myanmar who are being driven out of Rakhine state because food markets in the west of the region have been shut down and crucial aid deliveries restricted,” Rushanara said.
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Quoting the UNHCR rapid response mission report from Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, in which 65 Rohingya refugees were interviewed, the Labour MP highlighted accusations of torture, summary executions, sexual violence and other atrocities by the Myanmar military.
Subsequently, she concurred with Conservative MP for Beckenham Bob Stewart when he said: “I have given evidence in such situations. Are these war crimes being put forward by the United Nations for prosecutions? Those should start right now.”
“There is now such an overwhelming weight of evidence of ethnic cleansing that Members cannot fail to agree and nor can the Government. It is vital that Members of this Parliament, which is seen as a beacon of democracy in the world, send a powerful message today that we will stand with the people being persecuted, the Rohingya population and other minorities in Myanmar,” Rushanara added.
The Labour MP also called for the government to place greater pressure on their international partners to act on the Rohingya issue and learn from the lessons learned in Bosnia and Rwanda.
“We cannot come back to the House and say ‘Never again’ when we have watched ethnic cleansing happen, and regret not taking greater action and using all the powers and influences that we all have here in the House,” she concluded.