Rushanara Ali MP marks Human Rights Day by supporting Amnesty International’s Write for Rights Campaign.
Rushanara gave a statement:
“Every year Human Rights Day, which commemorates the adoption of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, reminds us of how important universal rights are for everyone, everywhere. It is also a timely reminder that for some, human rights are still being fought for. It is important we recognise Human Rights as an opportunity to highlight such cases where people continue to have their rights abused and violated.
“As Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Democracy in Burma, I follow closely the human rights situation in Burma and I have felt saddened to see examples of Burmese authorities arresting and imprisoning activists and human rights defenders for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. These are rights enshrined in Articles 19 and 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
“One such case is student Phyoe Phyoe Aung, who in her role as the Secretary General of a prominent student union, has been imprisoned since 10 March 2015 while awaiting trial for nothing other than helping to organise demonstrations on behalf of students who were unhappy with a new education law passed by the government. A law that brings universities under the control of the Ministry of Education, and who students say will limit free speech and democracy.
“Phyoe Phyoe Aung and over 100 student protesters, leaders and their supporters have been charged with a range of criminal offences for their participation in the 10 March protest, and if found guilty, face up to nine years and six months imprisonment. Phyoe Phyoe Aung’s case is one of five that Amnesty International are prioritising as part of its annual Write for Right’s campaign, where supporters all over the world write messages of hope to people whose rights have been abused; or messages to those in authority, urging them to stop the abuse.
“Here in the UK we take so many rights and freedoms for granted, but Human Rights Day reminds us that we must stand in solidarity with those less fortunate and do all we can to promote and protect human rights, both here in the UK and across the world. The Labour Party can take pride in our record on Burma, including campaigning for minority groups such as the Rohingya. We have stood firm against a regime guilty of countless extrajudicial killings, mass imprisonment and torture of opponents.
“Human rights should be the building blocks of every society and it is vital that the UK work in partnership to support the Burmese government in a difficult and dangerous time when the reversal of progress is not impossible. I will continue to keep pressing the Government on holding the Burma to account for their human rights record in my capacity as a Member of Parliament, and thank Amnesty International for the events they have organised to raise awareness of Human Rights Day here in Parliament and across the world.”