Media Release from the All-Party Parliamentary Group For Democracy In Burma
British Parliamentarians from the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Democracy in Burma are calling on Foreign Secretary William Hague to prioritise human rights when he meets Burmese President Thein Sein in London.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group For Democracy in Burma has recently heard evidence on a number of serious human rights issues, including the continuing recruitment of child soldiers, ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya, religious persecution against the Chin ethnic minority, and possible war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the Burmese Army against Kachin civilians.
The British government is right to support reforms which have taken place, but must also maintain a healthy scepticism about the process, given that so many serious problems continue to be ignored.
Benchmarks and timelines should be put to Thein Sein for improvements on key human rights issues, such as ending rape and sexual violence, the status of the Rohingya, releasing political prisoners and constitutional reform.
Agreement should be sought for co-operation with an international investigation into abuses against the Rohingya, and the start of a genuine dialogue process for the drafting of a federal democratic constitution.
“It is too soon to welcome Thein Sein as a democratic reformer,” said Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead, Chair of the APPG Burma. “We know from bitter experience that promises from the government of Burma are hollow. They must be judged by their actions, not their words. Promoting trade, before securing major advances on human rights encourages Thein Sein to believe that his government can continue to act with impunity. William Hague and David Cameron should send Thein Sein away with a flea in his ear, not a pat on his back.”