Monday, 6 April 2009

Early Day Motion 343

I recently wrote to our local Island MP, Andrew Turner asking him to support an "Early Day release of political prisoners in Burma. Early day motions (EDMs) are formal motions submitted for debate in the House of Commons. However, very few EDMs are actually debated. Instead, they are used for reasons such as publicising the views of individual MPs, drawing attention to specific events or campaigns, and demonstrating the extent of parliamentary support for a particular cause or point of view.
Motion" calling for the

Although Mr. Turner's office forwarded a reply from Bill Rammell MP, the Minister of State at the Foriegn and Commonwealth Office responsible for relations with Burma outlining the Government's support for it's people and their human rights I note that our MP (an opposition member) did not even sign the Early Day Motion, unlike 173 of his fellow MPs!

The Government's reply was as follows:-

"We condemned the sentencing of members of the "1988 student group" and other pro-democracy activists, some with up to 105 years in jail. I underlined our deep concern in a statement on 11 November. The British Ambassador in Burma has also made clear to the Burmese Foreign Minister that we consider the harsh sentences imposed to be completely unacceptable.

We remain deeply concerned at the human rights situation in Burma. Systematic and appalling abuses continue unabated. Whilst we welcomed the releases of a small number of political prisoners since September, including the senior NLD figure, U Win Tin, it is important that we remember that arbitrary arrests and sentencing of opposition figures to long prison terms continues, and more than 2200 political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi, remain in detention. We continue to call for their immediate and unconditional release. We support the work of the UN Special Rapporteur, Thomas Ojea Quintana, who visited Burma from 14-21 February to investigate reported human rights abuses. We urge the Burmese regime to cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteur.

We are encouraging the UN to redouble its efforts to facilitate peaceful political change in Burma. This is something the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary have discussed with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and our international partners on a number of occasions. The Prime Minister most recently raised Burma with Ban Ki-moon on 9 December. Should the UN Secretary General decide to visit Burma this year he will have our full support."

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