Labour & Burma’s Political Prisoners: Solidarity or Self Interest?

Britain’s Labour Party stood in unity today with Burma’s political prisoners as our trip back to the House of Commons saw almost 20 MPs (many from the Shadow Cabinet) take action for Amnesty’s campaign including the Shadow Deputy Prime Minister, Harriet Harman and Shadow Foreign Secretary, Yvette Cooper.

Harriet Harman MP

We shot the portraits in the Parliamentary Labour Party office inside the House of Commons – beautifully old and historic rooms, but about as dark as a cell in Insein. Five minutes running around the office trying to find a suitable spot before members of the Shadow Cabinet poured in through the doors and organised chaos ensued before we got the ‘media friendly group shots’ out of the way leaving me to take a few individual portraits that count for what I’m trying to show. It was hectic and we sped through the group shots despite me not knowing who was who (if only I cared about British politics as much as I do about Burma’s!). It went well but a sudden moment of dissent from within the ranks was an unexpected shock – it was rightfully and ruthlessly quashed by Harriet Harman who was not amused at all and I thank her for it. We live in a free world where we have the right of freedom of speech however to announce that you are not writing a name on your hand because “it’s a stupid idea” is insulting and disrespectful to the 2,200 political prisoners and all the former political prisoners I am working with and quite frankly Mr ‘un-named’ MP, I of all people am very happy for you not to be part of it. If the SPDC are trying to infiltrate the House of Commons like the DDOS attacks currently underway in Burma as we speak then they failed miserably. If I had been in Harriet’s shoes or if this had been Naypidaw then the offending General would have very quickly found himself in a dark cell in Myingyan. If Harriet was left decisively un-amused you can be sure I was left very much insulted and left wondering why this certain MP bothered turning up at all… solidarity or self-interest?

Yvette Cooper MP

After the whirlwind of politicians had been and gone, I managed to have a brief meeting with Yvette Cooper to discuss Burma, the elections and of course the issue for political prisoners including the current grave situation faced by many on the Thai-Burma border with potential forced repatriation on the cards. She showed a passionate and concerned interest in Burma and the current situation in the country both now and post election. With David Cameron heading to China next week, I wonder what discussions (if any) the British Government will have about the two detained Nobel Peace prize winners, one of whom is due to make headlines once again next week.

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