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Burma: Human Rights

Volume 498: debated on Tuesday 27 October 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent reports his Department has received on the human rights situation in Burma; and whether he plans to impose sanctions against the Burmese authorities. (295185)

[holding answer 26 October 2009]: The UK remains deeply concerned at the human rights situation in Burma. It is evident from the latest Report to the General Assembly by the UN Rapporteur, Mr. Tomas Ojea Quintana, that systematic and appalling abuses remain unchecked and that arbitrary arrests and the sentencing of opposition figures to long prison terms continues.

The most prominent example is that of Aung San Suu Kyi, but his report also draws attention to the plight of the more than 2,100 other political prisoners who remain in detention. EU sanctions have been in place against Burma since 1996, but following the sentence imposed on Aung San Suu Kyi on 11 August this year, the EU agreed to a further set of sanctions intended specifically to target the Burmese regime’s economic interests, including a travel ban on those members of the judiciary responsible for the verdict.

These measures came into force on 14 August 2009 and can leave the regime in no doubt about our determination to see real democracy established and human rights respected in Burma. Their objective is to target those individuals and entities that are most closely linked to the regime’s misrule, rather than punishing the Burmese population as a whole.