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Conservatives dominate parliamentary debate on Burma

William_hague William Hague: As we watched the ruthlessness with which the protests were crushed, we witnessed not only the junta’s repression but in some measure the outcome of 17 years of inactivity by the international community. Seventeen years have been lost. During that time the Security Council has not passed a single resolution condemning the situation in Burma or applying pressure on its leaders.

I want to raise three sets of issues: first, our immediate diplomatic response to the recent crises; secondly, what has been done to build an effective diplomatic coalition since then; and thirdly, the Government’s strategy going forward, on which the Secretary of State said some words.[...]

Nigel Evans:
Does my right hon. Friend agree that what typifies this hideous regime is the imprisonment of a good friend of many of us in the House, James Mawdsley, for the crime of distributing Bibles when he visited Burma? Trying to repress the distribution of Bibles and lock away people involved in such an act shows how hideous it is.

William Hague: Absolutely; my hon. Friend makes a powerful point. I remember hearing James Mawdsley describe his experiences. It brings home the tyrannical nature of the regime and its determination to suppress the freedom of thought and religion that he was trying to encourage.


Mike Gapes: I very strongly agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Cynon Valley (Ann Clwyd)—I hope that I have pronounced the name of her constituency correctly—who talked so strongly about the situation with regard to parliamentarians.

Julian_lewis Julian Lewis: Little Englander.

Mike Gapes:
The members of the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs are not little Englanders; we visited the United Nations in New York two weeks ago, and we had useful discussions with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon about the situation in Burma, as well as meeting some of the exiled groups that are working in the UN to try to get democracy and human rights in their country.


Johnbercow John Bercow:

In the past three years, I have twice visited the Thai-Burma border and, in September this year, I returned from a week-long visit to the India-Burma border. Those visits left indelible impressions on my mind. I will never forget hearing testimony about a man who was dangled over a hot fire as part of his punishment. I will never forget speaking to a man who had been incarcerated and beaten throughout the night, and who had suffered the humiliation and agony of having his body swung repeatedly against a pillar. I will never forget hearing testimony about a man in Insein prison who was so malnourished, so ravaged, and so painfully thin that, in the words of my interlocutor, it was possible to see his intestines moving like worms.


Kawczynski Daniel Kawczynski:
I looked at BBC coverage from 1988 and compared it with the 2007 media coverage —my hon. Friend the Member for Ribble Valley referred to the role of the media. I found a vast improvement in the coverage by the BBC, and other channels, of the brutality of what is happening in Burma. That is partly because viewers are more interested in what is going on and consequently the BBC and others are making sure that they report on it. I applaud the BBC’s coverage of the past few weeks, and I urge it to do whatever it can to ensure that British citizens are kept abreast of what is happening in this brutal dictatorship, to show great support for our Burmese friends who are struggling in this campaign.


Andrew Mitchell:
This regime will not be able to put the cork back into the bottle. Protest might not come back on the streets in quite the same way in the next few weeks, but the junta has done huge damage to its power structure by attacking Buddhism. So many monks have been locked up and beaten that as, inevitably, they are released and trickle back into their community, there will be fury at how they have been treated. Indeed, over the past weekend, graffiti has been appearing on the walls in Rangoon saying “Than Shwe killer”. That is an example of the change that is taking place in Burmese society. Let the whole international community determine that this time things in Burma will be different.

More from Hansard here.


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