Human Rights: Burma

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:44 pm on 18th January 2017.

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Photo of Paul Scully Paul Scully Conservative, Sutton and Cheam 12:44 pm, 18th January 2017

I thank the Minister for that response. The first question I asked in this House was about the situation faced by the Rohingya community in Rakhine state. It is incredibly frustrating to return to the subject nearly two years later, following several worrying reports from Rakhine, northern Shan and Kachin, the last two of which have reportedly involved airstrikes and heavy artillery.

Since that first question, Aung San Suu Kyi has won a remarkable election victory. Although she has a difficult task in keeping the Government together while the military still has such a huge influence, does the Minister agree that friends such as the UK should continue to raise humanitarian issues while so many suffer due to their faith?

Tomorrow, Foreign Ministers of the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation, an inter-governmental body of 58 member states, will meet in Kuala Lumpur to discuss the situation of the Rohingya in Rakhine state. Will the Minister join me and more than 40 Myanmar-based civil society organisations in calling today for a truly independent international investigation into that situation, whereby state-sponsored attacks on Rohingya Muslim civilians have escalated in recent months? It is difficult to get accurate information about what is really happening in Rakhine, so in order to get to the truth and beyond the false reports, will the Minister call for full access for independent observers and journalists to villages and displacement camps in Rakhine state?

I have also been informed that Yanghee Lee, the United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, who has been on a 12-day monitoring mission to the country, has been denied access by the Government to conflict-affected areas of Shan state. Does the Minister agree that Ms Lee should be allowed to do her job and bring such issues into the open? Finally, when the Foreign Secretary visits Burma this weekend, will he raise the situation in Rakhine, Kachin and northern Shan, and will he also raise the matter with Burmese MPs and the Speaker of the House of Representatives when the Burmese delegation visits the UK next week? Will he also raise the matter with the Government of Bangladesh to see what more can be done on a humanitarian level for displaced Rohingyas on the border between Burma and Bangladesh?