British Government support for Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims

All around the world, people with any sense of humanity are appalled at Myanmar’s disgraceful treatment of Rohingya Muslims. In November, the United Nations Security Council condemned Myanmar’s actions in a unanimous resolution.

The British Government has been speaking out against Myanmar’s persecution of Rohingya Muslims for many years and has been providing practical help to Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.

However, when the CMF was recently asked by email to lobby the British Government to take action on this issue, we realised that many citizens may not be aware of what our Government has already been doing.

Accordingly, we have listed a few items on this website page. A search for Rohingya on the Government website  found 112 results on the date of this page was created.

Earliest reference we found

As long ago as the Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s Human Rights and Democracy Report 2013, the Government said:

“In January [2013], the Burmese government signed a historic initial peace agreement with the Karen National Union after 63 years of conflict, although we continue to be concerned by the treatment of the Rohingya population in Rakhine state.”

“While significant changes have taken place in Burma during the past two years, including the release of many political prisoners, serious violations of human rights continue to be widespread, directed in particular against religious and ethnic minorities.

The Muslim Rohingya, stripped of their citizenship in 1982, remain in limbo, stateless, despite their community having lived in Burma for over 200 years. There were reports throughout the year that the Buddhist extremist movement, known as “969”, was responsible for organising the violence.

We therefore welcomed the commitment given by Burma’s President during his visit to the UK in July to take “a zero-tolerance approach to those who fuel ethnic hatreds”, and to call for a transparent process of accountability for those responsible for religious hatred and violence.

We have concerns about implementation and will continue to press the government to take urgent action on this. We have encouraged the Burmese government to invite the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief to visit Burma.

In addition, we are supporting interfaith work in Burma through our project funding. In Kachin, we are the largest bilateral donor, and announced a further £13.5 million of humanitarian aid in July 2013.”

The report contained a case study “The plight of the Rohingya.

Recent statements

Skipping over the many statements during the intervening years, on 13 November 2017 speaking to the Lord Mayor’s Banquet, Prime Minister Theresa May said:

“And it includes continuing to step up our efforts to respond to the desperate plight of Rohingyas – brought home to us again on our TV screens so graphically today, with heart-breaking images of young children emaciated and pleading for help.

This is a major humanitarian crisis which looks like ethnic cleansing. And it is something for which the Burmese authorities – and especially the military – must take full responsibility.

The UK is already the largest donor in response to this crisis. And we will continue to play a leading role in bringing the international community together – working through the UN and with regional partners to do everything possible to stop this appalling and inhuman destruction of the Rohingya people.”

On 28 November 2017 Minister for Asia Mark Field spoke in Westminster Hall about the situation the Rohingya people are facing and how the UK is assisting in Burma and Bangladesh. The text of his speech is at this link.

On 5 December 2017, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon attended a Special Session of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva and reassured Bangladesh of the UK’s support to address the plight of the Rohingya.

Sadly, the legal aspects of national sovereignty and the delicate geopolitics around Myanmar preclude some of the actions that one might wish to take, but within these constraints the UK has provided a strong moral, financial, and diplomatic lead.

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The Conservative Muslim Forum was founded by Lord Sheikh in 2005. All of its members are full members of the Conservative Party.