European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton attends a news conference in Helsinki on March 6, 2012. (Photo: Reuters)
The European Union is carrying out diplomatic initiatives in order to stop the massacre of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, the Anatolia news agency reported on Sunday.
Anatolia quoted High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton's spokesperson Michael Mann as saying they were closely monitoring acts of violence against the Muslim minority in Myanmar. “EU diplomats got in touch with officials in Myanmar following a directive of Catherine Ashton. Experts from the [European Community Humanitarian Office] ECHO were dispatched to Myanmar to determine the urgent needs of the Muslims,” Mann said.
The EU had reduced some of its political and economic sanctions on Myanmar earlier this year after several political prisoners were released from prison and the opposition was permitted to join elections. Myanmar's government wants to make use of the EU's tariff-free import procedures for poorer countries.
The EU has attached more importance to the issue of tariff-free imports after Myanmar assured the International Labor Organization (ILO) that it would end forced labor in the country by 2015. Most of the people subject to forced labor in Myanmar are Muslims.
Amnesty International said last week that Muslim Rohingyas are increasingly being targeted in violent attacks that have included killings, rape and physical abuse. Amnesty International also accused both security forces and ethnic Rakhine Buddhists of carrying out new attacks against Rohingyas, who are seen as foreigners by the ethnic majority and are denied citizenship by the government because it considers them illegal settlers from neighboring Bangladesh.