July 12, 2013
UK Shadow Minister for International Development, Rushanara Ali, MP, has urged the British government to apply pressure on the Burmese authorities to address the humanitarian crisis in Burma and put human rights at the heart of their reforms process.
Burmese president Thein Sein will soon begin his official tour of the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland and France, it was announced yesterday.
Ali expressed worries about the humanitarian crisis in Burma’s Rakhine State and the human rights abuses against the Rohingya, a Muslim community, and other minorities in Burma.
She acknowledged the progress the Burmese government had made towards political and economic reforms since President Thein Sein took office. But, she said, the international community should not ignore the considerable work the Burmese government still needs to do.
Rushanara Ali, MP, who recently visited Burma, said, “Since inter-communal violence first broke out last year, Rohingya Muslims have been forced into segregated settlements and their movements have been restricted, stripping them of their livelihoods and rendering them reliant on aid. Displaced people are living in constant fear of violence, abuse and harassment both from the security services and from fears of a further attack from sections of the Rakhine population.
She urged the UK and the international community to press the President to make real commitments to bring those responsible for inter-communal violence to justice.
“There are growing concerns regarding the disparity between the President’s words and his actions as Burma’s human rights record remains poor,” she said. “There can be no impunity for those committing human rights abuses in Burma.”
Human Rights Watch’s recent report ‘All we can do is pray’ concluded that crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing were being committed against Burma’s Rohingyas. Progress on ethnic reconciliation must remain the highest priority.
Ali said, “President Thein Sein’s visit to London is a unique opportunity for Prime Minister David Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague to press him and his Government to address some of these key human rights issues. It is crucial that this state visit does not lead to complacency from either the British or the Burmese Government.”