Saj calls for review of Myanmar leader’s human rights award

Sajjad today called on the European Parliament President to review the suitability of Aung San Suu Kyi to maintain her status as a Sakharov Prize holder.

In a speech during the opening of the Parliament’s plenary session in Strasbourg, Saj expressed his concern to President Tajani regarding the appropriateness of Myanmar’s premier - Aung San - holding on to her award for her human rights record, following her inaction on and denial of the persecution of Rohingya Muslims in Burma.

Addressing the European Parliament, he said:

“What powers do you have in your office, Mr. President - in terms of the award of a Sakharov Prize - when the holder of such a prize is then blatantly conducting activities and speaking words, and carrying out actions which go against the very spirit on which such awards are given? How can we revisit the awards that have previously been given in such circumstances?”

For many years now the Rohingya have faced discrimination and violence from the Buddhist majority in the country - largely unnoticed by the world - despite many human rights activists describing their maltreatment as ethnic cleansing.

But the situation has rapidly worsened in recent weeks, with more than 300,000 Rohingya Muslims having fled to Bangladesh since Rohingya militants assaulted police posts in the Burmese state of Rakhine, killing 12 security personnel on 25 August.

Rohingyas who have fled Myanmar since then say the military responded with a brutal campaign, burning villages and attacking civilians in a bid to drive them out.

The military, however, says it is responding to militant attacks and denies it is targeting civilians, with the Burmese leader describing the attacks as “fake news”.

Commenting further on the issue Sajjad said

“As a proud Muslim and defender of human rights, it is painful to see such atrocities in Myanmar being committed on such a scale. What’s worse, is to see a previous beacon of hope, Aung San Suu Kyi, denying that such actions are taking place and seemingly letting these brutalities continue.

“To allow her association with the Sakharov Prize to continue would be an insult to all its previous winners and the people that have died fighting for human rights, which is why I am calling on President Tajani to review her award.”

Over the years Sajjad has been active in raising the issue of Rohingya Muslims in Burma in the European Parliament, including through various resolutions and parliamentary questions.

Just last week he wrote to the EU’s chief diplomat, Federica Mogherini, asking what steps the European Commission intends to take to help the Rohingya.