Conservative MP's call debate on Burma

Stephen Crabb, the Conservative MP for Preseli Pembrokeshire, introduced a debate on Burma on 24 October. Conservative Party Human Rights Commission member John Bercow MP spoke in the debate, as did Conservative MP Bob Spink and Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Clifton-Brown.

The Conservative Party Human Rights Commission provided briefing for the debate to several speakers. Calls were made by MPs for the Government to undertake the following measures:
  • Increase efforts for a UN Security Council resolution on Burma;

  • Introduce an investment ban on Burma and prohibit companies using British-dependent territories to invest in Burma;

  • Provide support to Burmese pro-democracy organisations and groups engaged in human rights documentation, dissemination and education;

  • Provide funding to relief teams distributing cross-border humanitarian assistance to the Internally   Displaced People in Burma.

In his speech, Stephen Crabb said:

“I am sure that I am not alone in thinking that more than 90 per cent. of everything said from the platform in the party conference season is instantly forgettable, and I am sure that that applies equally to all parties. However, in Bournemouth at the beginning of the month I listened to one of the most confident, passionate and meaningful speeches I have ever heard in any political forum. The speaker was a 25-year-old Burmese woman called Zoya Phan, who used an appearance at our conference to make a heart-cry for her people and her country. Zoya spoke of how, at the age of 14, she witnessed a savage assault on her village by troops of the Burmese regime. She spoke of mortar bombs exploding, soldiers opening fire and of her family running, carrying what they could and leaving their home behind. She also spoke of her memories of those killed on that day and the smell of black smoke as her village was destroyed behind them. She brought questions to our conference and asked: why has it taken 16 years for the UN Security Council even to discuss Burma; why are there no targeted economic sanctions to cut the lifeline that keeps the Burmese regime afloat; and why is there not even a UN arms embargo against her country? It was Zoya’s testimony, more than anything, that made me ask for the debate. I would like to use my contribution to bring these questions and others to the Minister.”

John Bercow MP said:

“Extra-judicial killings, rape as a weapon of war, brutal water torture, compulsory relocation, forced labour, the use of human mine clearers, the use of child soldiers on a scale proportionately greater than in any other country in the world, and the daily, systematic razing and destruction of villages in their thousands, throughout eastern Burma, all point to the institutionalised bestiality of one of the most appalling Governments on the planet.

I believe that all the people of Burma are dehumanised and continue to suffer on the most breathtaking scale as a consequence of the wholly illegitimate Government who tyrannise each and every one of them. I am mindful, however, of the very particular circumstances and plight of the ethnic nationals to whom my hon. Friend so movingly referred. I speak of course of the Karen, the Karenni, the Kachin, the Chin, the Mon, the Arakan and the Rohingya peoples, to name just a few of the groups that daily experience the most egregious abuse of their human rights.”

For a full transcript of the Westminster Hall debate: 

Stephen Crabb MP also raised Burma at Prime Minister’s Questions on 25 October. This can be found at: