An EU trade mission to Myanmar scheduled for next week has been cancelled following pressure from campaigning MEP Amjad Bashir.
The delegation from the European Parliament’s International Trade Committee was due to visit Myanmar to explore a potential expansion of trade agreements with the EU – despite international condemnation of ethnic cleansing there.
Mr Bashir, Conservative MEP for Yorkshire and The Humber, has been an outspoken critic of the persecution of Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslim minority and persuaded several of the parliament’s political groups to boycott the trip.
The committee finally abandoned its plans for the mission this morning following an emergency resoltution in the parliament which Mr Bashir helped negotiate. The resolution demanded an immediate end to the violence against Rohingyas and the safe return of 300,000 Muslims who have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh – and it warned of economic and political sanctions if not.
Mr Bashir said: “I was aghast that the parliament was even considering such a mission in the current climate.
“This is a place where the United Nations has directly accused the authorities of ethnic cleansing. How can we consider putting profit before people to the extent that we would pursue trade deals with a state like that?
“Now I have been informed that the trade delegation has been abandoned and I am very pleased to hear it. It should have been a simple decision – but at least we reached the right position in the end.”