Myanmar

The Secretary of State Was Asked – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 21st February 2017.

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Photo of Yasmin Qureshi Yasmin Qureshi Shadow Minister (Justice) 12:00 am, 21st February 2017

What recent assessment he has made of the progress of the transition to civilian democratic rule in Myanmar.

Photo of Alok Sharma Alok Sharma The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

Burma has made welcome progress towards democracy since embarking on reforms in 2011. It has lifted media censorship and released political prisoners, and held legitimate elections in 2015. The military remains powerful, however, and under the constitution is granted 25% of the seats in Parliament. Clearly, we want to see a transition to full democracy.

Photo of Yasmin Qureshi Yasmin Qureshi Shadow Minister (Justice)

The National League for Democracy, in power at the moment, continues to lock up those of its own activists who have spoken against the excesses of Burma’s military and its treatment of ethnic minorities. Will the Minister make it clear to the Burmese Government that it cannot be recognised as genuinely democratic if it keeps putting its critics behind bars?

Photo of Alok Sharma Alok Sharma The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

Human rights are vital, of course, and we always ask any Government to make sure that they are observed. More broadly, the issues right now are stopping the violations, securing humanitarian access and delivering accountability in parts of Burma where it is lacking, and those are precisely the points my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary pressed the Burmese Government and the military on when he visited Burma last month.

Photo of Catherine West Catherine West Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)

Burma’s Rohingya Muslims were banned from voting in last year’s elections, and have since been excluded from dialogue between the military and other ethnic minority groups. Endemic violence against the Rohingya has recently been described by UN officials as ethnic cleansing that may amount to crimes against humanity. Did the Foreign Secretary raise the plight of the Rohingya with Daw Suu and the generals on his recent trip to Burma?