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Myanmar: Sanctions

Volume 692: debated on Tuesday 20 April 2021

What assessment he has made of the potential merits of using sanctions as part of the diplomatic response to the military coup in Myanmar. (914443)

What representations he has made to his counterpart in Myanmar on the reports of killings and excessive use of force by security forces against people protesting the recent military coup in that country. (914461)

The violent crackdown and killing of peaceful protesters in Myanmar are completely unacceptable and require a strong message from the international community. The UK secured G7 statements on 3 February and 23 February, as well as a United Nations Security Council presidential statement on 10 March. In response to the military’s appalling human rights violations, the UK has imposed sanctions on two key military-linked entities that fund the military’s actions and on nine senior military figures, including the commander-in-chief.

I thank the Minister for his answer. Can I impress upon him the plight of the people in Myanmar and the need to do all in the power of the Government to assist them? Do the Government intend to review the process of administering sanctions, which is often slow and difficult? Will he inform the House as to what talks are being held with other Governments, particularly those in Asia, to ensure a united approach is being taken to sanctions on the Myanmar regime?

I thank the hon. Member for her question. When we impose sanctions, we have to make sure that they are done on a properly solid legal basis. The Foreign Secretary recently travelled to Brunei and Indonesia and attended the second United Kingdom-Association of Southeast Asian Nations meeting of Foreign Ministers. We made clear our views on the coup in Myanmar and the senseless violence against civilians. We welcome ASEAN’s unique role in addressing the crisis and support its call for an end to the violence and for restraint and a peaceful resolution.

The people of Myanmar desperately need help. Medical staff such as my constituent Dr Thomas Lamb have been actively persecuted—including through arbitrary detention, torture and death—simply for attempting to treat peaceful protesters. Following the coup d’état in February, my constituent saw at first hand the atrocities committed by the junta, such as the use of gunfire and the forcible removal of innocent civilians from their homes. During his meetings with the military junta’s Foreign Minister, has the Minister raised the killings of more than 700 innocent Burmese civilians? Will he now follow the lead of Canada and the Netherlands and formally join the Gambia’s genocide case against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice?

We have been clear that we are completely steadfast in our opposition to the coup. What is happening to innocent civilians in Myanmar is obscene. We have demonstrated our strong international leadership, including at the UN Security Council and the G7. We are clear that there should be accountability for the military’s acts, both historic and recent, and that all options, including referral to the International Criminal Court, should be on the table.

The Labour party stands with the pro-democracy protesters in Myanmar, who have shown extraordinary courage in resisting the barbaric brutality of the military junta. The UK Government’s response has lacked both strength and urgency. The Minister mentioned the ASEAN conference, but the tweet put out by the Foreign Secretary shortly after that conference made no mention whatsoever of what has been happening in Myanmar; will the Minister say a little more about why? Also, 42 nations have an arms embargo against Myanmar; will the Government commit today to writing to every other UN nation asking them to join that arms embargo? Will the Foreign Secretary publicly call for the orchestrators of the atrocities that we are witnessing in Myanmar—

We are clear that countries should not sell arms to the Myanmar military. We played a key role in securing and strengthening an EU arms embargo following the 2017 Rohingya crisis. The Foreign Secretary welcomed ASEAN’s unique role in addressing the crisis, in line with the purpose and principles enshrined in the ASEAN charter.