Baroness Cox questions Government about Religious Freedom in Burma

October 24th, 2017

Baroness Cox questions Government about Religious Freedom in Burma

Baroness Cox recently submitted 4 questions for written answer to the Government, asking what assessments they have made regarding religious freedom in Burma. 

Read below the questions and the written answers received.

Baroness Cox 

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the military’s role in the persecution of religious minorities throughout Myanmar, including in the Shan and Kachin States.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Minister of State

The British Government remains deeply concerned by the persecution of the Muslim Rohingya population. There have been reports of rapes, killings, burning of villages, and the use of landmines; 536,000 refugees have fled over the border into Bangladesh since 25 August. The Burmese military is responsible for the brutality inflicted on the Rohingha and the ensuing humanitarian catastrophe.

We also remain deeply concerned over continued human rights abuses in Burma’s ethnic border areas, especially in Shan and Kachin where hostilities are still taking place. We have repeatedly called on the military to end hostilities comprehensively, and have called on all sides to enter into dialogue towards a sustainable and comprehensive nationwide ceasefire and political reconciliation process.

Hansard source (Citation: HL Deb, 23 October 2017, cW)


Baroness Cox

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of freedom of religion and belief throughout Myanmar.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Minister of State

We are deeply concerned by the violence and hate speech against Muslims and Christians in Burma. It is clear that the Rohingya face persecution and that Christians in Chin, Kachin and Kayin States face intimidation. Fears have been whipped up by nationalist Buddhists against the Rohingya, fuelling attacks against Muslims in Rakhine which have seen a sharp escalation since the attack by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) on police posts on 25 August. Following its election in 2015, the civilian government have attempted to build interfaith and inter communal relations through a message of ‘strength through diversity’. These words need to be demonstrated by their actions.

Hansard source(Citation: HL Deb, 23 October 2017, cW)


Baroness Cox

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the pressure placed on children to convert to Buddhism in the military run NaTaLa schools in Myanmar.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Minister of State

We are aware of the Burmese Government’s efforts to construct new living spaces for communities in conflict affected areas, known as Na Ta La, which roughly translates to “Border Areas National Races Youth Development Training Schools” and of some reports that these are being used to pressure children to convert to Buddhism. These reports are deeply concerning. The UK Government is clear that the persecution of individuals of any faith remains of profound concern. The freedom to practise, change or share faith or belief without discrimination or violent opposition is a fundamental human right. Societies that aim to protect and promote freedom of religion or belief are more stable, prosperous and more resilient against violent extremism.

Hansard source(Citation: HL Deb, 23 October 2017, cW)


Baroness Cox 

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the arrests in Myanmar of two Kachin Baptist priests who face up to eight years imprisonment for assisting journalists, following a military airstrike on St Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Mong Ko in July.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Minister of State

The UK Government is deeply concerned for the welfare of the Kachin pastor and youth worker Dumdaw Nawng Lat and Langjaw Gam Seng since they were arrested on Christmas Eve 2016. They remain in detention in Shan. The Foreign Secretary raised their case with the military appointed Minister of Home Affairs when he visited Burma in January.

We urge the military to produce evidence that Dumdaw Nawng Lat and Langjaw Gam Seng have any connections to any ethnic armed group and that this be presented and evaluated in a court of law. Should the evidence be non-existent or insufficient, we call for the immediate release of both men. Should the evidence exist, we urge the authorities to accord the two men due process and fair trial standards.

Hansard source(Citation: HL Deb, 23 October 2017, cW)


Have you got a question for the Government? Suggest a question for written answer

View HART’s recent blog regarding funding cuts along the Thai-Burmese Border here.



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