British Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire on Tuesday assured Britain’s Parliament that human rights issues were “very much on his agenda” on his upcoming trip to Burma.
Addressing Swire, Labour MP Kerry McCarthy that she was concerned that other recent trade delegations led by the Foreign Office seemed to have said “very little” about human rights during their visits.
“Can the minister assure me that the plight of the Rohingyas, the fate of political prisoners, and other human rights issues in Burma will be very much on his agenda when he goes to Burma?” she asked during the UK Parliament’s traditional Tuesday question time.
“I can certainly give her that assurance,” Swire replied.
“We continue to raise our concerns about the recent violence in Rakhine State, as well as the conflict in Kachin and Shan states, with Burmese ministers and Aung San Suu Kyi,” he said.
Moments earlier, Conservative MP David Burrowes had enquired: “Does it not surprise him [Swire] that Aung San Suu Kyi, the most respected and peaceable person in Burma, has been in effect excluded from steps to resolve the situation in Rakhine? Will he urge the Burmese Government to invite Aung San Suu Kyi to visit Rakhine State as soon as possible to help to calm the situation?”
Swire responded that the issue was raised with Suu Kyi by the British Premier David Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague during her visit to the UK in June.
“I will travel to that part of the world shortly and I will certainly discuss the issue with her, because I believe she has a role in resolving it and, indeed, all the problems facing Burma today,” he said.
On October 29, Swire said, he called in the Burmese Chargé d’Affaires to the Foreign Office “to discuss our serious concerns about the violence in Rakhine State and the casualties and displacement among Rohingya people.”