I visited the Rohingya refugee camps in Cox’s Bazaar last November and heard first hand, accounts of murder, sexual violence, rape and torture by the Burmese military against children, women and men. I have been calling for the UK Government to publicly support a referral of the Heads of the Burmese Military to the International Criminal Court for the past year, in a motion before Parliament which you can see here. I’ve also repeatedly asked the Government to do more to support Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, which you can see in my speech here, and in another motion here. I also wrote about my visit in Wales Online which you can read here.
Today, I signed a letter coordinated by my Labour colleague Rushanara Ali MP. To Theresa May demanding that the Government supports the recommendations of the UN Mission Report on Burma delivered last week. The UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission concluded that there was sufficient evidence for members of the Burmese military to be investigated by the International Criminal Court (rather than the Burmese Government) for crimes against humanity including genocide against the Rohingya people.
The report highlights that the “gravest” of crimes against humanity against the Rohingya has taken place in Burma. The Report reflects what I heard during my visit to the refugee camps. Despite calls I have repeatedly made, alongside colleagues, the Tory Government has so far only backed an internal Burmese investigation into what has happened. This is despite the fact that the UN Mission found that “through their acts and omissions, the [Burmese] civilian authorities have contributed to the commission of atrocity crimes” and also stated that Burma had instituted a decades old system of abuse which amounted “severe, systemic and institutionalized oppression [of the Rohingya] from birth to death”. So an investigation by the Burmese Government, the same Government that has discriminated against and abused the Rohingya to investigate its own military is unacceptable.
The principle that those who commit crimes against humanity should be investigated and punished seems to be increasingly forgotten as the phrase “never again”, becomes a platitude rather than a shared goal. It is therefore vital that the Prime Minister backs the conclusions of the UN Mission and shows international leadership on this matter by supporting the referral of Burma to the ICC now.
You can find the full letter below;