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Burma: Rohingya

Question for Foreign and Commonwealth Office

UIN HL5687, tabled on 28 February 2017

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their response to the statement by the UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide on 6 February, that (1) the scale of violence alleged to have been perpetrated by the Burmese security forces against the Rohingya community amounts to "dehumanization", and (2) the existing government of Burma commission is not a credible option to undertake a new investigation into allegations of human rights abuses in Rakhine state.

Answered on

14 March 2017

We note with concern the statement made on 6 February by Adama Dieng, the UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, responding to a report published on 3 February by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, which detailed a number of serious cases of human rights violations against the Rohingya by Burmese security forces.

We have long had concerns about the systematic discrimination against the Rohingya Muslim community in Rakhine. The UK has been at the forefront of efforts to resolve the recent violence there. I visited Burma in November 2016 where I pressed the Burmese Government to de-escalate its security operations and launch a credible investigation into reports of human rights violations. The Foreign Secretary, my Rt Hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip (Mr Johnson) also visited in January and raised the same points. While Mr Sharma raised the same concerns with HE U Kyaw Tin in the margins of the UN Human Rights Council in February.

We are now pursuing a robust resolution at the Human Rights Council in Geneva to renew the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur, Yanghee Lee, who has been instrumental in shining a spotlight on human rights in Burma, including in Rakhine. Her latest report is expected to issue shortly. We also support the Rakhine Advisory Commission led by Kofi Annan, which is mandated to provide advice on a long term solution to reconciling inter-communal strife in Rakhine. This Commission is due to present its findings in the summer.

We agree with UN Special Adviser Dieng that the interim report of the Rakhine Investigation Commission into human rights violations in Rakhine since 9 October is not credible, including the methodology by which it determined there was insufficient evidence to take legal action over reports of sexual violence. It is at odds with a number of reports and testimonies from various human rights organisations to the contrary, including authored by the UN. The Burmese Government has now delayed the publication of the final report pending further investigations. We will await the final outcome of these investigations before making a judgement on its overall findings.