It was a pleasure to attend a dinner hosted by the Speaker, Rt Hon John Bercow MP (centre), in honour of the Burmese Speaker Win Myint (right). Win Myint was appointed Speaker on 1 February 2016 and is a member of the National League for Democracy (NLD) political party in Burma. I was greeted by Members of the Burmese delegation including MPs and senior officials. Win Myint and his parliamentary colleagues watched Prime Minister’s Questions from the gallery on Wednesday 25 January 2017.
I have taken a particular interest in Burma since my election and have raised issues around Burma on numerous occasions in the House. In 2013 I was pleased to be able to travel to Burma as part of a cross-party delegation of MPs and to meet with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi who led the NLD to a majority win in Burma’s first openly contested election in 25 years in November 2015. Daw Suu is an inspiration and has worked tirelessly at great personal cost for 25 years to secure the same basic rights for the people of Burma that we in the UK take for granted.
Also attending the dinner was Ben Rogers, East Asia Team Leader for Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW). Ben has been visiting Burma and its borders for over a decade, campaigning for religious freedom for all and for the Rohingya who are being forced out of their homes by the thousands.
I met with the Director of Burma Campaign UK, Mark Farmaner, and Campaigns Manager, Zoya Phan who have repeatedly campaigned for international action to end ongoing human rights violations. Founded in 1991, Burma Campaign UK is now one of the leading Burma campaign organisations in the world playing a crucial role in coordinating the international campaign to free Burma.
The Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD), UK’s leading democracy-strengthening organisation, were also at the dinner to talk about the newly established programme in Burma. WFD bring together parliamentary and political party expertise to help developing countries and countries transitioning to democracy.