International Campaign for Freedom of Aung San Suu Kyi and Burma
Friday, March 13, 2015
British government fails to act as Burmese students beaten and arrested
Last week we emailed you, asking for your urgent help to get Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond to take action before lives were lost. We were calling on Philip Hammond to call President Thein Sein and warn him that if students protesting in Burma were attacked and arrested, there would be serious diplomatic consequences.
On 10th March, the violence which had been predicted happened. When students defied a ban on their protest and tried to march, they were brutally attacked by police. We even heard reports of students still being beaten by police as they were being carried into ambulances.
More than a hundred students were arrested, and more than a hundred injured. Thankfully, no-one was killed.
Not only did the British Foreign Secretary not take sufficient action to try to prevent this violence, he has been silent since it happened. The only thing the British government has said is a two line comment on the Facebook Page of the British Embassy in Rangoon, saying they are concerned. It is a pathetic response and will be seen as a green light by the regime in Burma that it can get away with attacking and arresting students.
As one of the main supporters of President Thein Sein and his reform process, the British government has a special responsibility to act. Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond must make it clear to President Thein Sein that any further attacks and arrests of students and their supporters is unacceptable. He must conduct a complete review of all the assistance being given to the government of Burma. Our aid must not be used to help modernise Burma's authoritarian regime.