Burma: Politics and Government

Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs written question – answered on 22nd October 2008.

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Photo of Alistair Carmichael Alistair Carmichael Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Scotland), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Northern Ireland)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports his Department has received of a military escalation in Karen state, Eastern Burma; and what steps his Department plans to take to seek to prevent military action against civilians there.

Photo of Bill Rammell Bill Rammell Minister of State, Foreign & Commonwealth Office

Our embassy staff in Rangoon are not granted direct access to Karen State to confirm reports of increased military activity but there is a history of fighting between the Burmese military and Karen groups. This only increases the humanitarian crisis facing the thousands of displaced people living near or on the Thai-Burma border.

The continued violence in Karen state is regrettable and highlights the need for a comprehensive and just settlement of Burma's ethnic conflicts. Stability and territorial integrity are important to all nations and the continued neglect of the needs of the people of Burma by the regime is at the root cause of conflict in many parts of the country. We regularly emphasise to the Burmese regime, and to countries in the region, the need for the full and fair participation of ethnic nationalities in the political process as key to a durable solution to Burma's problems. There can be little prospect of national reconciliation without genuine recognition of their political, economic and social rights.

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