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Burma: Human Rights

Foreign and Commonwealth Office written question – answered on 27th February 2017.

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Photo of Caroline Lucas Caroline Lucas Co-Leader of the Green Party

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what human rights concerns he raised with the Burmese authorities during his visit to Burma on 20 January 2017; and if he will make representations to the Burmese authorities to allow the United Nations to assist with an independent investigation into the events of 9 October, and 12 and 13 November 2016 in northern Rakhine State.

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

The Foreign Secretary, my Rt Hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip (Boris Johnson), raised two areas of human rights concern during his visit to Burma on 20-21 January. On Rakhine, he raised concerns about human rights violations with State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and with military-appointed Government Ministers; he stressed the need for a smarter security approach, full humanitarian access and the importance of ending discrimination against the Rohingyas. On Kachin and Shan states, he pressed for the military to de-escalate the fighting and remove barriers to humanitarian access. The Foreign Secretary also raised the case of the two detained Kachin pastors, Dumdaw Nawng Lat and Langjaw Gam Seng, in his meeting with the Home Affairs Minister.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has already issued a substantive report on the abuses carried out by the military in Rakhine State since 9 October. The UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Burma is also due to issue a full report in March ahead of the UN Human Rights Council.

In the light of the two reports we will consider, with our EU and international partners, what scope there is for further enhancing scrutiny of the military's actions in Rakhine

We also continue to support the Rakhine Advisory Commission led by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, which is due to report in the summer. This has the support of the Burmese Government and the international community, and represents the most realistic prospect for securing progress in Rakhine State.

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