I have only written to my MP a very few times in my four decades as a voter, so you could hardly call me a political activist 😉 But this week I wrote to the Hon Phil Goff who is the MP for my constituency. I reproduced the letter on my personal blog and now here, in the hopes that others might want to write something similar to their representatives. Please do take a few minutes to write, if enough of us do it might make a tiny difference. Sometimes prayer alone is not enough we have of actually DO something 😉
Email to my Representative the Hon Phil Goff MP
Dear Mr Goff,
I am writing to you, as you are my constituency MP, and a previous Foreign Minister, and because I imagine that the Prime Minister who is (I believe) standing in as Foreign Minister currently is probably even busier than you are 😉
I am puzzled that a Labour-led government (who I would expect to be concerned for basic human rights and dignity) does not seem to have been at all active in taking steps to encourage a resolution to the twenty year old conflict in Burma where a military junta, which assumed power in the wake of protests at a previous military government, has been systematically and brutally suppressing all dissent, refusing to negotiate with either the current opposition or with the political party elected by an overwhelming majority in the last free elections, and instead setting up a bogus process which is intended to cement their own rule. The junta is guilty of documented crimes against humanity, including the use of forced labour and rape as a weapon, in their suppression of ethnic minorities.
I have not written to a politician on such a topic before, but the latest case just seems so disgusting (see the account below this message) and comes only days after we signed a free trade deal which includes the Myanmar (Burma) Junta among its beneficiaries, that I felt this time I could not simply stand by and ignore my country’s complicity in these crimes.
[Account of the rape of Nhkum Hkawn Din from Sarah Armitage, Partners UK & Childcare Projects Coordinator.
On 27th July 2008 near Nam Sai village, Kachin State, Nhkum Hkawn Din left her house to take food to her brother who was working in a paddy field on their parent’s farm. When her brother returned home later that day not having seen her, the family realised that something was wrong. After searching most of the evening, she was reported missing.
Towards the end of the third day of searching, her clothes and shoes were found alongside the basket she had been carrying to her brother. Her body, naked and mutilated, was finally found only 200 metres away from a Burma Army checkpoint. According to family members she had been gang raped and then further violated with knives. Her skull had been crushed beyond recognition and her facial features obliterated. Her eyes had been gouged out and her throat was cut. She had also been stabbed in the stomach and on her right side.
Local witnesses say that they saw Nhkum Hkawn Din being followed by Burma Army soldiers on her way to the paddy field and that they saw the soldiers, one of who was recognised as a Colonel, leave the area a little later on.
The local army commanders have admitted that one of their lower ranking soldiers, Soe Thu Win, carried out the attack. He was recognised by witnesses during a line-up and later confessed under interrogation. It has been stated that he will be sentenced to 20 years in jail without trial. The Colonel was not interrogated and has since been relocated.
The family have been offered $500 plus some food (1 bag of rice, cooking oil, 5 cans of milk and some sugar) as compensation.
There has been no official investigation and once again the Burma Army are getting away with murder.
Rape is systematically used as a weapon of war against ethnic minorities in Burma, more than a thousand cases have been documented. There is also a culture of impunity, where no action is taken against soldiers who rape. On June 19th The United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1820 noting that rape and sexual violence can be described as a crime against humanity.]