Burma

Foreign and Commonwealth Office written question – answered on 27th January 2015.

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Photo of Naomi Long Naomi Long Alliance, Belfast East

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what steps his Department has taken in response to the increase in the number of political prisoners in Burma in the last year.

Photo of Hugo Swire Hugo Swire The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office

The UK actively pushes for the release of all political prisoners in Burma. The most recent official figures from the government of Burma suggest that 27 political prisoners remain in prison, having dropped from over 2,000 in 2011. However these figures are contested, and a leading local non-government organisation – the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma) – suggest that as of January there are 160 political prisoners with another 203 facing trial.

Clearly, the UK is very concerned by the increase in political prisoners witnessed over the last year. Officials from our Embassy in Rangoon meet regularly with members of civil society on this issue, and we continue to raise our concerns with the government of Burma at Ministerial level. I raised our concerns over political prisoners with Deputy Foreign Minister Thant Kyaw in June 2014. Most recently, the Minister of State at the Home Office, my right hon. Friend the Member for Hornsey and Wood Green (Ms Featherstone), raised this issue directly with the Minister for the President’s Office, U Soe Thein, during her visit to Burma this month. We continue to lobby on individual cases. We also raise our concerns publicly in our Annual Report on Human Rights and in multilateral fora such as the UN General Assembly, where the UK co-sponsored a Resolution last year that called for the unconditional release of all political prisoners.

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