Rohingya Refugee Crisis

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:27 pm on 20th December 2018.

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Photo of Mark Field Mark Field Minister of State 3:27 pm, 20th December 2018

I am taking rather longer than I intended, but this is an important debate and I wanted to take some interventions. However, I want now to come back to my speech.

Let me also say this very specifically about China’s actions at the moment: China’s forcing of a procedural vote as recently as October to try to prevent the fact-finding mission from even briefing the UN Security Council highlights, I fear, the level of opposition we are currently up against. But we shall continue to try to engage China on the need for accountability for this horrendous set of crimes, and our strategy of course is not constrained to the UN Security Council; we secured agreement as recently as 10 December at the Foreign Affairs Council to expand the EU’s Burma sanctions listing. Seven senior military and border guard police officers were sanctioned by the EU in June for their roles in human rights violations in Rakhine in August and September 2017. We shall be adding more names to that list and expect to announce details early in the new year. These measures and their signal that the international community will take further steps to increase the pressure are noticed and are not welcomed by the Burmese military or indeed the State Counsellor.

Of course human rights violations continue to occur elsewhere in Burma, as has been mentioned by a number of Members. In the last few weeks three Kachin activists were convicted of defamation and sentenced to six months in prison for organising protests in which they were alleged to have criticised the Burmese military. Our ambassador had met them only a few days earlier, and both he and I have publicly protested at that sentencing.

The fact-finding mission report also highlighted that atrocities had been committed against both Kachin and Shan state minorities, and I heard some of the horrifying evidence for myself.