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Report publication: Violence in Rakhine State and the UK's response

11 December 2017

The Foreign Affairs Committee publish its first Report of the session 'Violence in Rakhine State and the UK's Response'.

Violence in Rakhine State amounts to ethnic cleansing, says Foreign Affairs Committee

Evidence received by the Foreign Affairs Committee suggests that the violence in Burma's Rakhine State amounts to ethnic cleansing and may well constitute crimes against humanity and even genocide.
In a report published today, the Committee welcomes the UK Government's efforts but is critical of its earlier ‘hesitation and equivocation' over defining the violence. The FCO has not undertaken its own analysis nor committed enough of its own resources to gathering evidence.

The Commander in Chief of the Burmese security forces, General Ming Aung Hlaing bears ultimate responsibility for the violence, and the UK Government has continued to support the Burmese civilian Government led by Aung San Suu Kyi. The Committee is critical that she has not shown the leadership which the world hoped for and needed. The State Counsellor is constrained by a lack of control over the military and strong domestic opinion, but she still remains the best hope of improvement in the future, albeit a compromised one.

Chair's comments

Tom Tugendhat MP commented:

We have heard truly appalling accounts of violence against the Rohingya in Burma, which we consider to amount to ethnic cleansing, or worse. The UK has led the international response and has achieved some progress with its provision of humanitarian aid and in securing a UN Presidential Statement, but this is not enough.
Atrocity crimes require a coordinated international response. The Minister Mark Field and the Government overall have made sincere efforts and have become noticeably tougher in their language and more willing to consider further action in recent weeks. But it has been over three months since the violence began and the Government has been too slow properly to call the violence what it is. The Government has also been remiss in not conducting its own legal analysis of the evidence.

Further information

Image: Tommy Trenchard/ Caritas/ CAFOD, September 2017