Keeping the Burma Agenda Alive: British MPs Meet to Discuss Burma
11 January 2010: Even as the incumbent legislators are getting busy with their own campaigns for the 2010 elections in the UK, a group of British MPs are trying to ensure that Burma remains high on Britain’s foreign policy agenda come a new Parliament.
Last Tuesday, members of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Democracy in Burma (APPGDB) held a meeting in London and heard from two leading British advocates for Burma, Baroness Caroline Cox, CEO of the Humanitarian Relief Trust (Hart), and Ben Rogers of Christian Solidarity Worldwide on the latest human rights and humanitarian situations in Burma.
The two recently returned from a fact-finding visit to Burma border areas where they gathered evidences of ongoing atrocities perpetrated by the ruling military junta and the dire humanitarian situations facing Burma’s ethnic nationalities.
“The meeting in the House of Commons gave us an opportunity to highlight the plight of the ethnic nationalities in Burma and particularly, on this occasion, the Chin,” said Ben Rogers, East Asia Team Leader at UK-based Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) who has travelled to Burma borderlands about 30 times in recent years.
The meeting, chaired by Alistair Carmichael MP, secretary of the APPGDB, was also attended by Burmese activists based in the UK. The discussion also focused on Indian policy on Burma, which is seen as crucial in the democratization process in Burma. The APPGDB consists of MPs from across party lines and was formerly chaired by current Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow MP.
One of the immediate outcomes of the meeting was a renewed pledge from British Parliamentarians to continue to raise the issue of Burma, as well as, holding a discussion on Burma with the Indian High Commission and Indian Parliamentarians.
Like Britain, Burma is holding new elections in 2010.
“As things currently stand, the regime’s planned elections offer no hope for meaningful change and that international pressures for real changed must be increased,” Rogers told Chinland Guardian.