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Burma: Human Rights

Volume 478: debated on Monday 23 June 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the Thai government's influence over the government of Burma on human rights; and what plans he has to make progress on alternative means of persuading the Burmese regime to take account of human rights. (212263)

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and I both met Thai Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama on 2 June and encouraged the Thai government to bring its influence to bear to support democracy, human rights and an improved quality of life for the people of Burma. Thailand and Burma share a 2,400 kilometre border and strong economic links and Thailand is home to an estimated 2 million Burmese migrants and 140,000 refugees. Both countries are members of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). Thailand is therefore in a key position to influence the government of Burma.

The human rights situation in Burma is of grave concern to both the UK and the wider international community. We have consistently used all available channels to highlight the dire situation in Burma. This has included engagement with civil society, bilateral action, multilateral action in the UN (including its Human Rights Council) and sustained dialogue and lobbying of all those who may have influence over the Burmese government. In discussions with ASEAN member countries, we have emphasised the leading role they have to play in supporting reform in their fellow member state.