The continuing problem of the use of rape and sexual violence by the Burmese Army was raised in the British Parliament today, during a debate on international development.
Valerie Vaz MP raised the issue of the use of rape and sexual violence by the Burmese Army, and Justine Greening, the Minister for International Development, responded that she would raise the issue with Aung san Suu Kyi when meeting her in London today.
Last month the Burmese government refused to sign a declaration of commitment to end sexual violence in conflict, despite repeated requests by the British government that they do so. Our media release with more information isavailable here.
Since Thein Sein became President, there has been renewed conflict in Kachin State and Shan State, and Burma Campaign UK has received an increased number of reports of rape and sexual violence by the Burmese Army. No action has been taken to end impunity for rape by the Burmese Army, and President Thein Sein and his government do not even acknowledge that such abuses take place.
“The fact that this issue is being raised in the British Parliament demonstrates a growing international awareness that despite reforms, the Burmese Army continues to rape with impunity,” said Zoya Phan, Campaigns Manager at Burma Campaign UK. “Domestic and international pressure must be placed on President Thein Sein to persuade him to stop the use of sexual violence by the Burmese Army.”
Transcript from the debate today:
Valerie Vaz MP:
What contribution her Department is making to the implementation of the Government’s preventing sexual violence initiative.
The Secretary of State for International Development (Justine Greening):
The UK will co-host a call-to-action event in November with Sweden, which will focus on protecting women and girls from all forms of violence in emergencies. That work builds directly on the G8 Foreign Ministers’ declaration on preventing sexual violence in conflict, which was led so ably by the Foreign Secretary.
I am grateful for that response. In Burma, reports of rape and sexual violence against women by the army have increased. Given the level of aid that we send to Burma, will the Secretary of State encourage the Burmese Government to sign our declaration and ask her colleagues to raise the matter in Europe and at the United Nations?
The hon. Lady makes a powerful point about what is happening in Burma. Aung San Suu Kyi is in the country and I will be meeting her today. I will be sure to raise those issues with her. I am sure that she takes them as seriously as this House.