Ever since the military coup in February 2021, Myanmar has been gripped by state-sponsored violence, extrajudicial killings, and widespread human rights abuses once again.
The SNP welcomed the UK Government sanctioning against the Tatmadaw, including those targeting those who supply the Myanmar regime with materials (i.e. military equipment, which are still being used to attack its civilians).
We also welcomed the UK and Canadian Governments’ moves in January to prevent aviation fuel reaching the Tatmadaw.
Myanmar is truly in a state of crisis, human rights impunity, and violent authoritarianism.
However, despite the widespread suffering, we must acknowledge that Myanmar’s minority populations are long-suffering, and thus are feeling the full force of renewed Tatmadaw oppression and persecution.
Even though Myanmar has moved between democracy and dictatorship in recent years, the country’s ethnic minorities have suffered throughout.
However, since the coup, the Tatmadaw have also increased their persecution of other ethnic minorities.
Between March 2021 and August 2022, Amnesty International documented 16 unlawful air attacks in Kayah, Kayin and Chin States as well as in Sagaing Region [regions with large non-Bamar and/or Christian populations]. The number outside of what was documented by Amnesty is likely to be higher.
The Reverend Samson is a non-violent Christian pastor, a human rights defender and a tireless advocate for justice, human rights, and freedom of religion and belief.
He did and continues to do brave and important work supporting peace efforts, drug eradication, advocating for justice and equality for Kachin Christians and throughout Burma, and facilitating the safe and voluntary return of more than 100,000 displaced Kachin people to their homes.
As a party we call for Reverend Samson’s immediate and unconditional release and I have tabled a Written Parliamentary Question to the Foreign Secretary on your behalf to pressure the UK Government to pursue all avenues at their disposal to leverage the military regime to change their course of action on this matter. We condemn this imprisonment in the strongest possible terms and wish to see UK Ministers go further and to co-ordinate a strong international response.
So far it is not clear that UK Government officials have made specific representations to counterparts in Myanmar on this case beyond general statements.
More broadly we note the appalling lack of democracy and protection of human rights in Myanmar [see section of Amnesty International Report 2022/23: The state of the world’s human rights - Amnesty International beginning on page 262]
We abhor the crackdown on dissent and wish to see a stop to anti-terror legislation being used in Myanmar to silence vocal critics of this atrocious military regime.