A cross-party group of MEPs have written to the Foreign Secretary asking the UK to pressure the UN Security Council to refer Myanmar to the International Criminal Court.
The letter was signed by 27 MEPs from the Conservative Party, the Labour Party, the Green Party, the Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, the Scottish National Party and an independent MEP. It notes that, as the “penholder” for Myanmar on the UN Security Council, the UK has a unique responsibility to hold the perpetrators of genocide and ethnic cleansing to account.
Wajid Khan, the MEP who drafted the letter, said: “The Myanmar military have committed genocide and they think they can escape justice. I appreciate the UK’s work so far on this, but we have to go further and start proceedings to take Myanmar to the ICC.”
While it has been widely reported that the ICC is currently considering proceedings over Rohingya crisis, this is only covering the forced deportation of the Rohingya people from Myanmar to Bangladesh, and there is currently no provision for investigation into the full scope of crimes committed.
The letter calls on the UK to refer Myanmar to the ICC, as well as work with other members of the Human Rights Council to create an International, Independent, Impartial Mechanism, as called for by various NGOs. The Mechanism would collect, consolidate, preserve, and analyse evidence of possible crimes to support criminal proceedings in the future. This is important because the Myanmar authorities are reportedly destroying evidence and military propagandists are already carrying out a sinister rewrite of the crisis.
Jude Kirton-Darling MEP, who co-signed the letter and supports its call, added: “We desperately need to hold the Myanmar government to account for the horrific ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya people which is a direct, vicious attack on human rights. Freedom of speech and reality are also put in jeopardy due to Myanmar authorities’ attempts to rewrite history in their favour and it is all happening before our eyes, unchallenged.
“The UK, as the ‘penholder’ for Myanmar on the UN Security Council, has a responsibility to push for accountability and action to end the nightmare that the Rohingya people have been living for far too long. We hope that the UK Foreign Secretary makes this his top priority.”
Regarding the cross-party effort, Mr Khan said: “It is so positive to see that my MEP colleagues from different political families are united in this. The effort to bring these people to justice must unite anyone who stands for human rights.”