Commission revisits Burma's crimes against humanity in Parliamentary hearing

11 January 2010

Four years after the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission held its first ever hearing, in which it focused on the human rights crisis in Burma, it is re-visiting the subject in a hearing on Monday 18 January, 2010: “Burma’s Crimes Against Humanity: The Next Steps in International Policy”. The hearing will be held from 5pm-7pm in Room O, Portcullis House, Westminster, London SW1 (above Westminster tube station, opposite the Houses of Parliament). It is open to the public to attend.

The hearing will receive oral evidence from four speakers:
  • Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, former Deputy Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal who led the case against Slobodan Milosevic, will set out why he believes the human rights situation in Burma may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity, and should be investigated. Sir Geoffrey was one of five leading international jurists who commissioned the report Crimes in Burma, by Harvard Law School.

  • Wai Hnin Pwint Thon, daughter of Mya Aye, a political prisoner in Burma sentenced to 65 years, will provide evidence on the treatment of political prisoners.

  • Bwa Bwa Phan, a Karen refugee, representative of the Karen National Union (KNU) in UK, Vice-Chair of the Karen Community Association-UK and Board Member of the European Karen Network, will describe the situation in eastern Burma and the military regime’s offensives against ethnic nationalities.

  • Anna Roberts, Director of the Burma Campaign UK, will offer proposals for action by the next British Government.

In 2006, the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission conducted an inquiry into the situation in Burma, which received evidence from Charm Tong of the Shan Women’s Action Network (SWAN), Nurul Islam, President of the Arakan Rohingya National Organisation (ARNO), Guy Horton, author of the report Dying Alive, and Mark Farmaner, Director of the Burma Campaign UK. The event was followed by a lecture delivered by Charm Tong and the Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague MP. Charm Tong also had a private meeting with the Leader of the Opposition, David Cameron MP.

The regime in Burma plans to hold elections in 2010, the first in twenty years. Tony Baldry MP, Chairman of the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission, said: “Burma has been one of our top priorities in human rights as a party, and this will be a crucial year for Burma. Few can be in any doubt that the regime’s elections as currently planned will be a complete sham, and will mean nothing for democracy and human rights. That is why we should intensify our focus on Burma and explore ways in which the United Kingdom can do more to encourage change. This hearing, and the subsequent policy paper, will be an opportunity to make a contribution towards influencing decisions and hopefully make some difference to international policy-making on Burma.”