Whilst most of my day-to-day work relates to local and national issues, lots of Pendle residents also raise international concerns with me. Current hot topics like the threat posed by North Korea or the relief effort following Hurricane Irma are raised alongside long running concerns about thepersecution of Christians worldwide, or human rights in places like Palestine or Kashmir.
Recently the upsurge in violence in Myanmar (Burma), has been of concern to many. Earlier this month I took a petition I was presented with at an event in Brierfield to Westminster and handed it over to our Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. In the Rakhine province, Rohingya Muslims – a religious minority – have long been the target of brutal and ongoing violence. Sadly, the last few weeks have seen a major outbreak of violence. The UK Government has taken an international lead in condemning this, initiating discussions in the UN Security Council, but sadly the violence has continued.
I have also continued to work with the Yousaf Family, from Nelson, in their long fight for justice. Three members of the family, all British citizens - Mohammed Yousaf, Pervez Yousaf and Tania Yousaf - were killed in Pakistan in May 2010. The murders attracted national and international press coverage and in October 2010 I led a debate on the killings in the House of Commons.
On Tuesday last week, the three accused, who had been on the run for the past seven years re-emerged and were granted bail by a Court in Pakistan. The Yousaf family brought this to my attention and I met with the Rt. Hon Mark Field MP, Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific, the day after. The Foreign Office have now looked into this matter and are working with the family to provide whatever support they can. The case will be heard in Pakistan, but with concerns about corruption, I will do whatever I can to ensure those sitting in judgement know the world is watching.
This case remains one of the most horrific I have dealt with in my seven years as Pendle’s MP and I will continue do all in my power to ensure that the Yousaf Family get justice.