The European Parliament has renewed its call on the military and security forces in Myanmar to immediately cease the killings, harassment and rape of the Rohingya.

More than 646,000 Rohingya have fled for safety to neighbouring Bangladesh since August. The total number of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh is expected to exceed 1m by year’s end, says the EU parliament’s resolution, which was adopted by show of hands.

The resolution calls for “an immediate end to the violence, to the killing, harassment and rape of Rohingya people and to the destruction of their homes by the Myanmar security forces”. It also urges the Myanmar government to condemn unequivocally all incitement to racial or religious hatred and combat social discrimination and hostilities against the Rohingya minority.

The MEPs also called on the Myanmar government to work with international aid agencies, the EU and the UN to allow immediate, unhindered humanitarian access to Rakhine State.

ALDE MEP, Urmas Paet (Estonian Reform Party), who negotiated the resolution on behalf of her Group, said the EU should react immediately.

“The EU needs to increase pressure on Myanmar. We should adopt punitive sanctions against those responsible for human rights abuses in Myanmar, broaden the existing arms embargo and suspend trade preferences and negotiations on an EU-Myanmar investment treaty,” said Paet.

The resolution followed an extraordinary debate secured by ECR MEP Amjad Bashir‘s impassioned plea to Parliament President Antonio Tajani.

“Inaction is simply unacceptable in the face of such cruel persecution and such human disaster,” said Bashir. “I am pleased colleagues from across the European Parliament joined ECR MEPs today in calling for the international community to act to end the ongoing crisis.

“I believe there is now real momentum, a growing international consensus that the world cannot stand by and watch as a whole people are wiped out and driven abroad,” he added.

ECR MEP Sajjad Karim, who also campaigned for an end to the persecution of the Rohingyas, said: “For many, many years now Member after Member of the European Parliament have stood in this chamber and highlighted the plight of the Rohingya. It seems that those calls have fallen on deaf ears and today we arrive at a situation where even the Pope cannot go there and call these people by their true identity… I hope today’s vote offers the Rohingya a chance and spurs on the international community to act”.