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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2787

British MPs called for an investigation into crimes against humanity in Burma

London, 31 October, (Asiantribune.com):British Members of Parliament called for an investigation into crimes against humanity in Burma and increased aid to the Burmese people during a four-hour debate on the current crisis held in the House of Commons last night. MPs, human rights campaigners and members of the Burmese exiled community held a vigil in Parliament Square during the debate.

In the historic debate, MPs called for the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to visit Burma and urged the British Government to investigate crimes against humanity and bring a case against Burma’s military regime to the International Criminal Court.

The Secretary of State for International Development, Douglas Alexander MP, announced plans to double British aid to Burma from £8.8 million this year to £18 million by 2010. His announcement follows criticism that the Department for International Development (DfID) failed to act on key recommendations from the House of Commons International Development Committee in July. The Committee had called for British aid to be quadrupled by 2013, and for funding for cross-border aid to internally displaced people and support for pro-democracy and human rights projects.

The Shadow Secretary of State for International Development, Andrew Mitchell MP, who travelled with Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) to the Thai-Burmese border and visited Rangoon earlier this year, told the House of Commons: “I am surprised and rather disappointed that the Government have not accepted in full the recommendations of the [Committee’s] excellent report. Indeed, they have rejected the most important ones…We agree entirely with the Committee’s recommendation. If we are in government after the next election, we will implement that proposal in full and immediately.”

Mr Mitchell also joined other MPs in urging the Government to investigate crimes against humanity in Burma and bring a case to the International Criminal Court.

During the debate, David Burrowes MP and Lord Alton attended a vigil opposite Parliament organised by Burmese exiles. Following the debate, Nigel Evans MP joined CSW’s Advocacy Officer Benedict Rogers and CSW supporters in an overnight vigil in Parliament Square. Mr Evans told the House of Commons during the debate: “The one thing that cannot be extinguished is the spirit of the people, who are fighting for liberty – their lives may be extinguished, but the campaign goes on. The campaign will go on in Burma until the hideous regime is removed.”

Commenting on the debate, Benedict Rogers said: “We warmly welcome this historic and timely debate in the House of Commons. We are delighted to see such passionate support in all political parties in the UK for the people of Burma in their struggle. While we are encouraged by the Secretary of State’s announcement that DFID will double aid to Burma by 2010, we hope they will expand on this pledge in light of the emerging level of cross-party support for quadrupling aid by 2013. We urge all government ministers to now act upon the clear recommendations from the debate, highlighting the messages through international relations and pushing for a full investigation into crimes against humanity in Burma.”

- Asian Tribune -

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