Rushanara Ali MP leads parliamentary debate on the persecution of the Rohingya by Myanmar Government

On Tuesday 17th October, Rushanara Ali, Member of Parliament for Bethnal Green and Bow and Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Democracy in Burma called on the Government to apply greater pressure on the Burmese military and government to protect Rohingya Muslims.  

As the main sponsor of a Backbench Business Committee debate titled ‘The Persecution of the Rohingya by the Myanmar Government,’ Members of Parliament debated the following motion for a three-hour period:

“That this House agrees with the statement by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights that the treatment of the Rohingya by the Myanmar Government amounts to a textbook case of ethnic cleansing.”

Speaking in the chamber, Rushanara said:

“The Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar have been the subject of decades of segregation and racial discrimination. Over the past few years, they have repeatedly been indiscriminately targeted by the Burmese military, and in the past month they have witnessed human rights violations on a scale extreme even by the standards of Myanmar’s history. Following the 25 August attack on Government buildings by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, the Burmese military, led by Min Aung Hlaing, have been responsible for attacks that have led to more than 582,000 Rohingya fleeing for their lives by crossing the border into Bangladesh.”

“The international community needs to apply pressure on the military. To do that, our Government need seriously to consider a global arms embargo of the Burmese military, building on what we have done domestically and with our European partners. It will not work simply to wring our hands and say, “There is ethnic cleansing”, if we do not follow up with the courage of our convictions, act and apply pressure to the Burmese military. It is no longer acceptable to say that the transition to democracy will stop the military acting this way “

“It is imperative that the international community do more to support the humanitarian effort and, in particular, humanitarian access within Rakhine state, which I visited in February once again. The lack of access to those desperately in need of food and healthcare in the internally displaced camps was shocking.”

Ministerial Response

In reply to the motion discussing whether the actions of the Myanmar Government amount to a textbook case of ethnic cleansing, the Minister for Asia and the Pacific, Mark Field MP, said:

“I accept that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has said that the situation seems like a textbook case of ethnic cleansing. I conclude, I am afraid, that that appears to be an increasingly accurate description of what has happened.”

In reply to a question on if the UK Government would support a referral of Myanmar to the International Criminal Court should the United Nations find that Genocide or other international law have been violations, the Minister said:

“It goes without saying that genocide is a legal term at the UN. If the UN goes down that path, of course the UK Government will be the first to be supportive of taking these matters to the International Criminal Court.”



Notes to Editors:
1) For further information or comment please contact Rushanara Ali MP’s Office on 020 7219 7200 or email [email protected]

2) You can find more information on Rushanara’s work in Parliament here