British MPs debated the issue of the Rohingya Muslim minority in Burma on Tuesday, including speeches from the opposition and the government minister responsible for Burma.
The debate, which lasted one and a half hours, included speeches on the community unrest that has claimed up to 89 lives in a three-month period and prompted an international effort to aid around 60,000 displaced persons.
Also, the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Democracy in Burma will host a meeting in which the Chin Human Rights Organization will brief MPs on religious persecution faced by ethnic Chin in Burma.
The debate and meeting both focus on issues of the persecution still faced by ethnic people in Burma, and persecution against Muslims and Christians.
Burma’s President Thein Sein has gained significant public support in recent months by playing to nationalism against the ethnic Rohingya, said Burma Campaign UK in a statement released on Monday.
“Playing to the strong nationalist sentiment among some Burman Buddhists in Burma may seem to him an attractive way to compete with the popularity of Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League For Democracy, which won a landslide victory in by-elections earlier this year," the statement said.
“In a country as ethnically and religiously diverse as Burma, this is a very dangerous strategy and one that should be countered and confronted robustly and immediately,” it said.
“The debate and meeting taking place in the British Parliament highlights that while some welcome reforms have taken place in Burma, very serious problems remain, especially in relation to on-going persecution of ethnic and religious minorities,” said Anna Roberts, the executive director of Burma Campaign UK.
“We welcome the fact that British MPs are continuing to draw attention to the very serious human rights abuses being committed by President Thein Sein’s military-backed government.”