April 1, 2014

A delegation of women from Burma spoke in the British Parliament today about ongoing human rights abuses, aid, and the political situation in Burma. (Picture attached)

The delegation of three women are on a ten day visit to the UK. The delegation consists of Jessica Nhkum from Kachin Women’s Association Thailand, Rosalinn Zahau from Chin Human Rights Organization, and Pippa Curwen from Burma Relief Centre.

In addition to speaking at the British Parliament, the delegation spoke at two conferences organised by the Refugee Studies Centre at the University of Oxford, are meeting the Department for International Development (DFID) and British Foreign Office, the official opposition shadow minister for international development with responsibility for Burma, and senior members of Parliament.

One concern raised by the delegation is that UK aid is almost entirely being directed through Burmese government approved channels to ethnic states, which makes it look like the UK is more interested in supporting the government, rather than maintaining neutrality. This contributes to the lack of confidence of the ethnic groups in the peace process.

“The British government should be supporting women’s organisations from conflict zones which are helping victims of sexual violence in conflict,” said Jessica Nhkum from Kachin Women’s Organization. “At the moment the British government gives them no support for this work. The British government must also do more to pressure the government of Burma to agree to political dialogue to discuss the root causes of conflict, and allow humanitarian access in all of Kachin State.”

“Human rights violations, especially of religious freedom, continue to affect the Chin despite reforms in other parts of Burma,” said Rosalinn Zahau from Chin Human Rights Organisation. “Chin State is the poorest State and little is being done to tackle this. The situation for Chin refugees is also very serious.  In New Delhi, many women and children are being subjected to sexual violence. We are concerned that there is pressure on Chin refugees in India to return to Burma, even though it is not safe for them to do so. We would like to see the British government pay more attention to the very serious problems which continue in Chin State and other ethnic states.”

 

Baroness Cox, Jessica Nhkum, Pippa Curwen, Baroness Kinnock, Rosalinn Zahau, Baroness Nye
Baroness Cox, Jessica Nhkum, Pippa Curwen, Baroness Kinnock, Rosalinn Zahau and Baroness Nye.

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