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Volume 454: debated on Monday 11 December 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will make a statement on the political situation in Burma. (105613)

We remain deeply concerned about the political situation in Burma. The people of Burma do not enjoy the most basic freedoms and there is little immediate prospect of positive change. No genuine progress towards democracy can be made while more than a thousand people are being held in prison, and many others are exiled, for their political beliefs or while the Burmese army continues its attacks on Burma's ethnic groups.

The democratic opposition cannot participate fully and freely in the National Convention process, which is wholly controlled by the Burmese regime. The length of this process alone, which has endured for 13 years, calls into question the regime's willingness to embark on a genuine path to democratisation and national reconciliation.

I have raised the political and human rights situation consistently with the Burmese regime and international partners. On 16 June, I called in the Burmese ambassador and on 5 July I wrote to the Burmese Foreign Minister, highlighting our many concerns and reiterating our call for the immediate release of all political prisoners. On 18 September, I raised the serious human rights situation with Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) ambassadors, including the Burmese ambassador, and on4 December with the ASEAN Secretary-General and the Brunei Foreign Minister. I have also raised Burma with the Governments of China, India, Japan, Thailand and South Korea. I met Juan Mendes, the UN special adviser for the prevention of genocide, and have invited him to come to the House on 14 December to discuss Burma. I discussed Burma in detail with Ibrahim Gambari, the United Nations Under-Secretary General, on 15 November, following his most recent visit to the country.