A woman displaced by the violence in the Kyukphyu township cries after arriving to Thaechaung refugee camp, outside of Sittwe on 28 October 2012. (Reuters)

UK MP: ethnic cleansing of Rohingya needs investigating…

Britain’s Foreign Office Minister says investigation into ethnic conflict in Burma is needed.

Britain’s Foreign Office Minister Baroness Warsi noted in parliament that “independent investigative work” is required for “an informed assessment as to whether ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity have been committed” in Burma.

The statement came on Wednesday, 5 June, in which Baroness Warsi was speaking in a debate on Burma in the House of Lords.

The Minister stopped short of proposing a way to set up an independent international investigation, as called for by Human Rights Watch.

The remarks come as international concern grows over the treatment of Burma’s ethnic Rohingya. Ethnic tensions between segments of Burma’s Buddhist majority and the minority Muslim Rohingya have led to riots and displaced thousands, leading to a “humanitarian crisis” according to HRW.

In April HRW published a report, ‘All You Can Do Is Pray’, which provided evidence that ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity had been committed against the ethnic Rohingya of Burma. The report documented that up to 125,000 Rohingya have been displaced in Burma.

“If British government platitudes were an effective policy tool, we have had so many that Burma would be the freest society in the world by now”, said Mark Farmaner, Director of Burma Campaign UK, a human rights advocacy group based in the UK.

Mark Farmaner said that it was a meaningless gesture for Britain to ask Burma’s government to conduct an independent investigation.

“The British government know full well this will never happen. Almost every UN General Assembly Resolution on Burma for more than 20 years has made similar calls for investigations into abuses. The only way any investigation will happen is if an international investigation is set up.”

Britain, as well as other countries such as the Japan and the United States, continues to receive criticism from human rights groups over their decision to lift economic sanctions while Burma’s ability or willingness to uphold human rights continues to be patchy at best.

“The British government is moving at breakneck speed to embrace the government of Burma, despite the country still having one of the worst human rights records in the world.” Burma Campaign UK said in a statement released to the media.

Adding to the controversy is Britain’s decision to send another trade delegation to Burma led by Lord Green, following an earlier one in December, despite the fact that the UK has yet to lead a human rights mission to Burma.

Mark Farmaner, Director of Burma Campaign UK, hit out at the British government for its stance on Burma and said.

“In its rush to embrace President Thein Sein and seize business opportunities, the British government is prepared to look the other way and take no action to try to prevent ethnic cleansing and mass rape in Burma.”

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