Campaigning MEP Amjad Bashir has won the overwhelming backing of the European Parliament for his groundbreaking report demanding action on the issue of statelessness in Asia.
The report was approved by a plenary sitting of the Parliament in Strasbourg today (Tuesday) following worsening suppression of the world’s largest group of stateless people, the Rohingyas in Myanmar.
The vote is expected to build pressure on Myanmar to allow a UN fact-finding mission into the country to investigate the Rohingyas’ plight.
Mr Bashir, Conservative MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber, drafted the report to driive forward his campaign to promote citizenship and raise awareness of the problem of statelessness.
In an impassioned speech urging his fellow MEPs to back the report, Mr Bashir said the UN’s Refugee Agency estimated that 135 million children under the age of five across the South and South East Asia region had not had their births registered because it was a not allowed.
He said that for decades being a Rohingya meant living in the shadows, a “non-person” in the eyes of the authorities: unable to start a business, stripped of property rights, denied all access to health and education.
Following the vote he said: “These people are truly trapped in misery. Life is intolerable, yet their very statelessness makes it impossible for them to flee.
“We must recognise the progress made in Indonesia, Cambodia and Vietnam, though there are still millions who are stateless and persecuted every day because of it.
“However, in Myanmar things only get worse. Despite the denials of the government and Aung San Suu Kyi, the evidence is plain that the Rohingyas are routinely subjected to serious human rights violations at the hands of the military.
“I hope this vote can do three things: galvanise the international community to act; reassure the Rohingyas that they are not friendless and hopeless; and remind the Burmese authorities that the eyes of the world are on them.”