Sir Mike speaks in debate on the Rohingya crisis

28th November 2017

Speaking in a debate on the Rohingya crisis Sir Mike raises calls on the UK government not to support any deal repatriating the Rohingya to Myanmar until there is real change in leadership in Myanmar. 

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Paisley. I want to say from the outset that there is a court in The Hague where the people who have been perpetrating these murderous activities will end up, and it is for this Parliament and this Government to work internationally to make sure that they are brought to justice.

By coincidence, my researcher worked in what was then Burma, long before the new golden leadership, when the generals were in charge. There is nothing new about what has been going on there. Colleagues who went to the camps saw people born there not 10 years ago or 15 years ago, but in excess of 25 years ago. It is a crying shame that the camps are still in that condition. The longevity of the camps is very important. I had the honour and privilege of visiting our troops in South Sudan—another place in the world where we should all be ashamed of what is going on—and the camps there had fresh water, sanitation and some longevity, so that when the rains came, the people there were protected.

At the same time, we need to think of the people of Bangladesh. These camps are on the side of the river, on some of the most fertile land that these people, who are subsistence farmers, have. That land has been taken away from them for generations now, and more will be taken away. The right sort of compensation needs to be directed to them, through either our aid budget or the international community.

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

I will not, because I want everybody to be able to speak. That is very important.

I am very worried that we might be encouraging people to go back to Myanmar with the so-called deal between Bangladesh and the Myanmar Government. People are being asked up to give up really quite personal details that could be easily used against them when they return to this place—I am conscious of not talking about a country, because it is not a country. These people have no rights. It is illegal under international law to make someone have no citizenship at all, yet that is exactly what has happened there for generation after generation.

My view, which may be different from colleagues’ views, is that we must not be part of any deal that encourages people to go back to watch their daughters being raped—they are not of my daughters’ age, of 26 or 27; girls of 11, 10 or younger are being raped—and their sons castrated in front of them. That is what is going on. That is the sort of thing that, if we are not careful, we will condone.

There is no change in the country. The generals are still in control, and they feel they can do this to these people because nothing will happen to them. We must make sure that something does happen to them and that they go to the international court in The Hague, so that we protect these people.

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