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British Parliamentarians call on government to prioritise human rights during Burmese President Thein Sein visit



July 14, 2013

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.”