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10th-Sep-2017

157 British MPs urge to suspend UK training of Burma`s army

By Agency

Boris Johnson has been urged by 157 MPs and peers to suspend Britain's training of the Burmese armed forces given the military offensive against Rohingya Muslim civilians in the south-east Asian nation.
The Foreign Secretary has already warned Burma's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi that the treatment of the ethnic minority group is "besmirching" the country's reputation. The parliamentarians welcomed his statement but urged the Government to suspend British training of the Burmese military, which cost the UK around £305,000 last year, given reports of beheadings, rape and children being deliberately shot.
Answers to written parliamentary questions show that the UK does not provide combat training but instead seeks to educate soldiers in democracy, leadership and the English language.
In November last year, then-defence minister Mike Penning said the Government does not know if any of the soldiers trained by the UK are involved in operations against Rohingya Muslims, and said officials have not evaluated how the training has led to improvements in human rights.
The letter came after the United Nations said 270,000 Rohingya Muslims had crossed into neighbouring Bangladesh in the past two weeks.
The exodus began after Rohingya insurgents attacked police posts in Burma, prompting the military to respond with "clearance operations" to root out fighters hiding in villages in Rakhine state, prompting accusations of ethnic cleansing.