Many of you have contacted me recently expressing concerns over human rights in Myanmar and persecution of the Rohingya community. According to the UN, over half a million people have fled Rakhine State for Bangladesh since August, a situation described by the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.
Like many, I am horrified by widespread allegations of torture, killing, arson, rape and many other forms of violence against the Rohingya community. Human Rights Watch revealed the scale of destruction to the Rakhine State through burning villages by releasing satellite imagery this August.
Following the escalation in violence from 25 August 2017, the Government has announced a suspension of military cooperation with Myanmar’s armed forces in response to calls from colleagues in Parliament and many others. Our shadow Foreign Office Minister, Liz McInnes MP, described this announcement as “welcome, albeit belated”.
Immediately, the Government must now continue to put pressure on the civilian and military authorities in Myanmar to help bring the violence to a complete close. It is also vital that those displaced urgently receive the food, water and medicine required to combat the crisis they face. We must press the Myanmar authorities to allow the currently denied access of NGOs and humanitarian organisations into the area.
Once this has been achieved, the process of establishing a lasting peace must begin, through building on the recommendations of the recently published report by the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, including a formal recognition of the rights and freedoms of the Rohingya people.
I was glad that Jeremy Corbyn spoke out about this in his speech to Labour Party Conference, calling on Aung San Suu Kyi to end the violence, rightfully stating “the Rohingya have suffered for too long”.
I will continue to keep up pressure on the Government on these essential stages of action and follow this issue closely, keeping my website updated on any further developments.