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Burma: Politics and Government

Volume 477: debated on Thursday 12 June 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received regarding the assassination of the Karen National Union leader from Burma, Padoh Mahn Sha; and whether he has discussed this matter with his Thai counterpart. (209502)

To date, we have received no conclusive reports on which person or parties were involved in the assassination of Padoh Mahn Sha on 14 February 2008. The case is still under investigation by the Thai police.

I discussed the murder of Padoh Mahn Sha with Thai Interior Minister Chalerm Ubamrung during my last visit to Thailand in February, who confirmed that investigations continue.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what reports he has received of the visit to the UK by representatives of the Karen National Union Peace Council; and what discussions he has held on this matter; (209503)

(2) what meetings he has had with representatives of the (a) Karen National Union Peace Council and (b) Karen National Union in the last 12 months.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials held a meeting with a visiting delegation from the National Council of the Union of Burma on 23 April 2008 at which the Karen National Union (KNU) was represented. Discussion focused on the role of the exile community in the constitutional referendum in Burma. We have not met representatives of the KNU Peace Council or received any reports of a visit of that organisation to the UK.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what meetings he or his officials have held with Pastor Timothy Laklem or other representatives of Asian Tribal Ministries. (209505)

Our embassy in Rangoon, including staff of the Department for International Development, meets representatives from a broad range of Thailand based Burmese organisations, including Asian Tribal Ministries. Officials have not had recent meetings with Pastor Timothy Laklem.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make representations to the Burmese authorities to encourage them to permit the Red Cross into areas of conflict in eastern Burma; and if he will make a statement. (209742)

In November 2006 the Government made two ministerial statements strongly condemning the Burmese government's decision to order the closure of the field offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). These statements were transmitted to the Burmese Ministers of Home Affairs, Foreign Affairs, Health, Labour, and National Economic Planning and Development.

On the 29 June 2007, a joint Foreign and Commonwealth Office/Department for International Development (DFID) statement was issued condemning the Burmese regime's chronic failure to co-operate with the ICRC, which had led the organisation to suspend its operations inside the country. This development was a serious setback to the efforts of the international community to alleviate the suffering of the ordinary people of Burma.

Subsequently the DFID Office and our embassy in Rangoon have continued to press the Burmese authorities to reverse their decision.