Burma – Karen


BurmaLord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

    Whether they have raised the issue of the plight of the Karen, Karenni and Shan minorities in Burma at the United Nations Security Council. [HL4117]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: We have raised our concerns over Burma with our Security Council partners. But there is no consensus at the moment for Security Council engagement on Burma issues. We nevertheless ensure that Burma is on the agenda for all other appropriate UN bodies, such as the UN Commission on Human Rights and the UN General Assembly, both of which have annual resolutions condemning the human rights violations against the ethnic minorities in Burma.

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

    Whether they have urged the European Union to raise the plight of the Karen, Karenni and Shan minorities with Burma’s military regime. [HL4118]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The UK works with EU Partners through the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy to maintain pressure on the Burmese Government to improve their human rights record. Repression of the ethnic minorities in Burma is a serious concern of the EU and has been included in regular EU statements. The terms of reference for the next EU Troika mission requires them to meet not only Aung San Suu Kyi but also representatives of ethnic minority groups. The last Troika mission, in 1999, had a firsthand account of the plight of ethnic minorities from ethnic representatives in Rangoon.

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

    Whether they will urge the European Union to produce a declaration concerning the plight of the Karen, Karenni and Shan minorities in Burma in line with the European Union’s initiative concerning human rights abuses against Aung San Suu Kyi and members of the National League for Democracy. [HL4119]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The EU regularly calls upon the Burmese regime to enter into substantive dialogue, not only with Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD, but also with ethnic minority leaders. For example, the EU Presidency statement of 7 October supported the efforts of the UN Special Envoy to initiate dialogue between the Burmese authorities, democratic parties and ethnic minorities. The statement of 28 September, about the SPDC’s treatment of Aung San Suu Kyi following her second attempt to travel in recent weeks, also included a call for such dialogue.

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

    Whether they have raised the issue of the plight of the Karen, Karenni and Shan minorities in Burma at the recent United Nations Millennium Summit. [HL4121]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The Prime Minister took advantage of the brief time available to him in the plenary session of the UN Millennium Summit clearly to register his dismay at the latest negative developments in Burma. Our deep concern for the human rights of all Burma’s people is well known: we will continue to press for improvements in this area.

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

    Whether the situation of the Karen, Karenni and Shan minorities in Burma fits within the international legal definition of genocide. [HL4120]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: I refer the noble Lord to my response during the debate on Burma in the House on 2 October (Official Report, 2 October, col. 1223).

Mr James Mawdsley

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

    What response they have received to the conclusion of the United Nations working group on arbitrary detention and arrest, on the wrongful imprisonment of James Mawdsley by the government of Myanmar; and what information they have on his present condition. [HL4249]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The Burmese Ambassador, Dr Kyaw Win, called on my honourable Friend, the Minister of State, John Battle, on 16 October to inform him that his government had decided to deport James Mawdsley. He made no reference to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention’s decision that James was being held arbitrarily.

As the noble Lord, Lord Alton of Liverpool, is already aware, James has now been released and returned to the UK on Saturday 21 October.