Bishop of St Albans asks Government about crimes against minorities in Myanmar

On 12th June 2018 Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government “what assessment they have made of recent reports of the Burmese military attacking Christians in Kachin, and other ethnic minorities in Burma; what representations they have made to the government of Burma about these reports; and what consideration they have given to the case for referring the government of Burma to the International Criminal Court.” The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a follow-up question:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, the reported atrocities against the Rohingya have been described as crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing and genocide. What assessment have Her Majesty’s Government made as to whether the human rights violations in Kachin and Shan states meet the criteria of at least crimes against humanity and war crimes?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: The right reverend Prelate is correct on the issue of the Rohingya, and as a Government we think that ethnic cleansing has taken place. Indeed, that is self-evident because of the number of refugees we have seen pour into Bangladesh. As I said in response to an earlier question, the situation in Kachin is of deep concern, but because of the lack of access for international agencies it is difficult to determine the issue of genocide more specifically. As regards judicial opinion, we will be guided appropriately, but we have certainly seen ethnic cleansing take place in Rakhine state—there is no better term for it—as well as in Kachin. What we are seeing is very troubling, but a full assessment cannot be made because of the lack of access.