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Burma

Volume 410: debated on Monday 18 August 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent reports he has received about the circumstances of Aung San Suu Kyi and those members and supporters of the National League for Democracy imprisoned after the attack on 30 May on Aung San Suu Kyi's motorcade. [130638]

It is unacceptable that Aung San Suu Kyi and other members and supporters of the National League for Democracy (NLD) should ever have been detained by the Burmese regime. As I recently told the Burmese Ambassador to the UK, we hold the Burmese military regime responsible for the wellbeing of Aung San Suu Kyi and we will continue to push for her release and other NLD members and supporters detained since 30 May.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what advice the Government has issued to British American Tobacco on the future of its cigarette factory in Burma owned jointly with the Burmese Government. [130630]

The Government do not encourage UK companies to trade or invest in Burma while the regime continues to suppress the basic human rights of its people. On 2 July I asked British American Tobacco to withdraw their investment from Burma. They are currently considering this request.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what progress has been made to have Burma placed on the UN Security Council agenda; and if he will table proposals for targeted sanctions against Burma through the UK's position as chair of the UNSC; [130633](2) what proposals the Government plans to make to the UN Security Council regarding the political, economic and humanitarian crisis in Burma. [130639]

The Government fully supports the efforts of the UN Secretary General's Special Envoy to Burma and the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Burma to help bring about national reconciliation, respect for human lights and democracy in Burma. This includes raising Burma in the various fora of the UN as and when appropriate.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the governments of the ASEAN nations on formulating a co-ordinated policy to influence the Burmese Government towards democracy and improved human rights. [130634]

We take advantage of our regular bilateral and multilateral contacts with all ASEAN nations to discuss Burma related issues, most recently on 23–24 July at the ASEM Foreign Ministers' Meeting. We welcome the joint Asian and EU Foreign Ministers statement on 24 July calling for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and democracy in Burma which sent a strong message of EU-Asian unity to the regime. We will remain in regular consultation with ASEAN Governments in the build up to the ASEAN Summit on 7–8 October. We believe that the ASEAN nations have an important role to play in encouraging substantive change in Burma.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what results have followed his decision in June to write to tour operators to ask them not to organise tourism in Burma. [130636]

By writing to the Association of British Travel Agents and individual tour operators we have drawn attention to the fact that Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy continue not to encourage tourists to visit Burma in the present circumstances. At least one UK tour operator has since said it will remove Burma from its 2004 Brochure and others are considering whether to withdraw.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has held about the closure of the universities in Burma following 30 May. [130637]

The UK made numerous representations to the Burmese authorities concerning the closure of universities after 30 May. The universities re-opened on 16 June.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what impact the publication of the road map to democracy and the national convention recently published by the Burmese Prime Minister has had on the Government's advice to British businesses on trading with and investing in Burma. [130640]

As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister made clear in this House on 25 June, the British Government do not encourage trade with or investment in Burma, while the regime continues to suppress the basic human rights of its people, We offer no support for companies wishing to trade with Burma or for those who want to invest there. Representatives of British companies or their subsidiaries that inquire about the prospects either for trade with or investment in Burma are informed of this policy. The publication of the Burmese road map to democracy does not change this policy. We would want to see substantive dialogue with democratic groups leading to national reconciliation in Burma before considering any change to Government advice.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the Government of Burma about the road map to democracy; and if he will make a statement. [130641]

I have had no discussions with the Burmese regime about its so called road map to democracy. I call on the Burmese authorities to release Aung San Suu Kyi and other members of the National League for Democracy (NLD) immediately and to enter into a substantive and meaningful political dialogue with them.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had about the exclusion of the National League for Democracy from the recently announced Burmese national convention. [130642]

The UK is active within the EU, UN and with our Asian partners to persuade the Burmese military regime to enter into substantive dialogue with democratic and ethnic minority leaders. Any meaningful democratic process in Burma must include the National League for Democracy.