We strongly support the mandate and work of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Burma, Yanghee Lee. While her full report has not yet issued, we share her concerns about the proposed so-called protection of race and religion bills. Like her, we have concerns about the discriminatory effect these laws could have in Burma, particularly for religious and other minority groups and women, were they to be enacted. We have voiced our concerns over this proposed legislation to members of the Burmese government and parliamentarians. Most recently, Minister of State at the Home Office, my right hon. Friend the Member for Hornsey and Wood Green (Lynne Featherstone), raised the issue when she met Deputy Foreign Minister Thant Kyaw during her visit to Burma in January. The UK also endorsed a statement issued by EU Heads of Mission in Rangoon in January reiterating those concerns and calling on the Burmese government and parliament to ensure that all new legislation is fully compliant with Burma’s international human rights obligations.
More widely, the British Government deplores the hateful and abusive language used by a prominent monk against Ms Lee following her recent visit. Such sexist abuse and intimidation of human rights defenders emphasises the need for the Burmese government to increase its efforts to strengthen respect for universal human rights and tackle hate speech. We call on the Ministry of Religious Affairs to act on the matter.