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UK Parliament Speaker John Bercow leads Burma delegation

President U Thein Sein receives a British delegation led by Speaker of the House of Commons, UK Parliament Mr. John Bercow and party at the Credentials Hall of the Presidential Palace in Nay-Pyi-Taw on 30 July 2013. (Photo: http://www.president-office.gov.mm/en)

By Zin Linn
Asian Correspondent
July 31, 2013

Burma’s President Thein Sein received a British delegation led by Speaker of the House of Commons, UK Parliament Mr. John Bercow and party at the Credentials Hall of the Presidential Palace in Nay-Pyi-Taw on Tuesday, the state-run New Light of Myanmar newspaper said today. The British Speaker of the House of Commons was accompanied by six parliamentarians of UK Parliament.
According to the newspaper, President Thein Sein and Mr Bercow had discussions on the release of political prisoners as well as taking penalizing actions against those involved in the conflicts between the two communities in Rakhine State and some other districts. The two also talked about some issues such as humanitarian assistance to victims in conflict-stricken areas, constitutional amendments, humanitarian assistance for victims in Kachin State and peacemaking development to terminate domestic armed conflicts.
They also discussed the freedom of worship and the opening of a branch of Office of the United Nation High Commissioner on Human Rights Office (OHCHR) in Burma (aka Myanmar).

The President said that mechanisms are under way to guarantee the rule of law and socio-economic development of the country in line with the desires of the people.

He added that freedom of worship was allowed within the country in accordance with the Constitution. He also explained that the sectarian violence in Rakhine State and some other districts were criminal cases and that those responsible will be punished.
Speaker of People’s Parliament Thura Shwe Mann met the British delegation at Zabuthiri Hall in Parliament Complex on the same day. They had wide-ranging discussions on political reform in Burma, parliamentary affairs and matters related to bilateral cooperation between the two countries, the state-run media said.
John Bercow is a constant critic of the human violations of Burma’s former military rulers, such as this article published in the Independent’s online edition in 2007 – This vile regime in Burma has to be confronted.

He wrote:
“I returned last week from a visit to the India-Burma border, with the human rights charity Christian Solidarity Worldwide and my Parliamentary colleague Caroline Cox. I heard tales of unimaginable brutality. I met people from Chin State in western Burma who had fled for their lives bearing tales of daily fear and misery – a cocktail of torture, killings, forced labour and rape, combined with more insidious policies of forced marriage, religious persecution and cultural genocide served up by the military.”