Baroness Cox speaks out on Sudan, South Sudan and Burma in the Queen’s Speech debates.

May 17th, 2013

Baroness Cox speaks out on Sudan, South Sudan and Burma in the Queen’s Speech debates.

On Wednesday the House of Lords debated the government’s plans for the year ahead in defense  international development, foreign and commonwealth affairs, as set out by the Queen’s Speech. HART CEO, Baroness Cox, spoke out on the situations in Sudan and Burma.

Highlighting the violence against the Rohingya people in Burma, the Baroness asked ‘what steps Her Majesty’s Government have taken to press the Burmese Government to ensure that security forces act swiftly to protect vulnerable communities, arrest and prosecute perpetrators of violence, prevent the spread of anti-Muslim propaganda and hate speech, and end impunity?Baroness Cox also pointed out that, despite having lived in Burma for generations, the Rohingya are still being denied citizenship by the Burmese government,

Baroness Cox then went on to speak on the situation in Kachin Sate, where the Burmese army have broken a 17 year ceasefire agreement, and Shan state, were the Burmese army frequently violate ceasefire agreements.  She spoke on HART’s recent  trip to Kachin state where she ‘saw the dire predicament of at least 100,000 people displaced from their homes by military offensives and human rights violations by the Burmese Army, with killing of civilians, arbitrary arrests, torture, rape and destruction of villages.’ Lady Cox asked what the British Government was doing to press the Burmese government to end these military offensives, whether they would press for unhindered humanitarian access and what humanitarian assistance the British Government is providing. She expressed the concerns of the Burmese ethnic nationals ‘that the warm welcome given by the international community to the reforms will result in massive investment, which the Burmese Government will use for more exploitation of the resource-rich lands of the ethnic national peoples’. She asked, given the EU decision to lift trade sanctions, what measures the British Government and the EU would be taking to press the Burmese government to end violations of human rights and to bring a just political settlement for the ethnic nationalities.

Turning to speak on Sudan and South Sudan, Baroness Cox stated that ‘South Sudan needs massive assistance to recover from the war inflicted by the former north, in which 2 million people perished, 4 million were displaced and virtually all the infrastructure was destroyed.’  She then asked ‘what specific initiatives Her Majesty’s Government are taking to promote UK investment in South Sudan?’ She described the dire humanitarian situation in areas of the Republic of Sudan, the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile state, where Al Bashir ‘is pursuing his racist policy of ethnic cleansing the African peoples’. She asked what the British Government are doing to end the culture of impunity and whether they would consider supporting indigenous organisations to provide life-saving food and medical supplies for civilians.

Bring her speech to a close, the Baroness said Our friends in Burma, Sudan and South Sudan passionately hope that we will hear more substantive promises from the Minister—if not tonight, in due course—to bring encouragement to people who have suffered too much for too long at the hands of Governments who continue to kill and inflict suffering on so many of their own people in Burma and Sudan with virtual impunity.’

Lord Astor replied that ‘ In South Sudan, I can tell the noble Baroness, Lady Cox, that DfID has allocated £40 million to help with humanitarian aid in 2013. In Burma we have provided £2 million for humanitarian support, with a focus on water, sanitation and nutrition. The Foreign Secretary and Aung San Suu Kyi agreed two weeks ago that it was time for the EU to move beyond sanctions.’

To find out what you can do to support those suffering in Burma and Sudan please visit our about you page.

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