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Rohingya: Burma

Volume 602: debated on Tuesday 24 November 2015

I saw for myself in July the desperate plight of the Rohingya community. Alleviating that situation remains a priority for us. We take every opportunity to press the Burmese authorities to tackle the issue, and we will continue to press the incoming Government.

Last week, a key National League for Democracy official said that the plight of the Rohingya people is not a priority. What discussions has the Minister had with the new leadership about the refugee crisis—there are 140,000 people in internally displaced camps, to which humanitarian institutions do not have sufficient access—and about reform of the discriminatory 1982 citizenship law?

As I said in my written statement to the House on 20 November, the landmark elections on 8 November were

“a victory for the people of Burma”,—[Official Report, 20 November 2015; Vol. 602, c. 25WS.]

notwithstanding the fact that the Rohingya were disfranchised from those elections. That is something that the incoming Government will have to deal with. I concur with what President Obama has said about the Rohingya in the past few days. Like him, we hope they will be

“treated fairly and justly in their own country”,

and we believe, as he does, that they are

“deserving of the world’s protection and the world’s support.”

The incoming Government in Burma are going to have an awful lot on their plate and will have to manage expectations. We stand ready to help them to do so, and addressing the grievances of the Rohingya people must be pretty near the top of that list.

I should tell the House that I have written to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, I hope with the concurrence of the House, to congratulate her and the National League for Democracy on their magnificent victory on 8 November. I am very grateful to the Minister for what he has just said.