View from the House: Helping to prevent violence in Burma

PUBLISHED: 08:00 05 October 2017


Recently, I joined other MPs in pressing ministers about human rights in Burma, and the appalling suffering of the Rohingya community there. I asked the minister to press Burma to scrap the 1980s citizenship law, which stops Rohingya Muslims obtaining citizenship of the country where they have always lived.

Reports of human rights violations in Rakhine State have been deeply troubling. According to the UN, more than 410,000 people have fled for Bangladesh in what it says is “ethnic cleansing”.

The willingness of Bangladesh to provide shelter – which I hope

will be maintained – has been exemplary.

Following pressure in Parliament, the government announced suspension of military co-operation with Burma. The immediate priority now, in co-ordination with other countries, must be to build on this by pressing Burma’s civilian and military authorities to end the horrific violence.

It is also vital those who have lost their homes and been displaced urgently receive the food, water and medicine they need.

And then the work of delivering a lasting peace must begin. It should include recognition of the rights and freedoms of the Rohingya people, and an end to restrictions on their movement. The UK and the rest of the international community must stand ready to provide support, but it relies firstly on civilian and military authorities in Burma living up to their responsibilities as a democratic government. As a long-standing, critical friend, I believe we should expect and demand nothing less. More from Stephen


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