Human Rights: Burma

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

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Alok Sharma Alok Sharma The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs 12:44 pm, 18th January 2017

Having previously discussed the situation with the hon. Lady, I know that she cares very deeply about the humanitarian issues in Burma. There is consensus on these issues on both sides of the House.

The hon. Lady raises the issue of the Kachin pastors. Many Christians live in areas where there is active conflict, notably in Kachin, and we are of course deeply concerned about the disappearance of the two pastors, Dumdaw Nawng Lat and Langjaw Gam Seng. There is deep concern about their welfare. As she notes, they disappeared on Christmas eve, allegedly after taking journalists to see a recently bombed church. Like her, we urge the Government of Burma to investigate their case immediately and release them.

The hon. Lady asks about the UK Government’s lobbying. I note that the Foreign Secretary will be in Burma soon. He will, of course, make strong representations on behalf of the UK Government. Apart from the representations that I and other Foreign Office Ministers have made, our ambassador has visited north Rakhine in recent months and has lobbied five separate Burmese Ministers on the issue and urged restraint in the security response.

Finally, the hon. Lady talked about humanitarian aid. As she will know, the UK Government are doing an enormous amount to provide aid to this troubled area. We have certainly been the biggest bilateral humanitarian donor in Rakhine, and since 2012 we have provided more than £23 million in humanitarian assistance, including supporting work on sanitation and nutrition for more than 126,000 people.