Lord Alton of Liverpool questioned the British government on 12 June over its response to attacks on Kachin Christians by the Myanmar (Burmese) military.
Speaking in the House of Lords, the Peer asked the government “what representations they have made to the government of Burma … and what consideration they have given to the case for referring the government of Burma to the International Criminal Court”.
In response, the Minister of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Lord Ahmad, stated that the government had expressed “deep concern” and called upon the Burmese military, and all parties, to cease hostilities and allow humanitarian access to the displaced peoples.
When pressed by Barnabas Fund’s patron Baroness Cox, and by the Bishop of St Albans, over human rights violations and war crimes committed by the Myanmar army, the Minister admitted, “We have certainly seen ethnic cleansing taking place … there is no better term for it.”
Myanmar is not a member of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the court therefore has no jurisdiction. However, the UN Security Council can refer states to the ICC for investigation and potential action by Security Council Resolution, although any move to do so would likely be blocked by China and Russia.
The mainly-Christian ethnic minority have been targeted for decades in what the government claims is a campaign against Kachin separatist groups. The latest offensive began with heavy airstrikes in April and displaced an estimated 10,000 civilians. Barnabas has delivered rice, clothes and tarpaulins for shelter to assist Kachin Christians across eight different locations in northern Myanmar.