Sunday, June 14, 2009

Indian Human Rights Activists Support Suu Kyi


Indian Human Rights Activists Support Suu Kyi
By ARKAR MOE Thursday, May 28, 2009

Indian politicians, human rights activists, religious leaders and artists have appealed to the international community for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, and criticized the Indian government for its silence over the trial of the Burmese democracy leader.

A conference was held in the Constitution Club in New Delhi on Wednesday to show the Indian people's solidarity with the people of Burma and Suu Kyi, who is now on trial accussed of violating the terms of her house arrest.

At the conference, G. Devarajan, the secretary of the Central Committee of All India Forward Bloc, Nandita Das, an Indian actress and social activist, the former Samata Party President Jaya Jaitley, former Defence Minister George Fernandez, Sumit Chakravartty, the editor of Mainstream weekly, film director Amar Kanwar and other Indian artists called for the government to pressure the junta for the early release of Suu Kyi and to take proactive actions against the Burmese junta.

G. Devarajan said he was not optimistic that Indian politicians would respond to their call. A statement urged the government to break its silence and call for the immediate and unconditional release of Suu Kyi and express their concern about recent political developments in Burma.

Meanwhile, an Indo-Burma Solidarity meeting at the Gandhi Peace Foundation, organized by the South Asian Forum for Peoples' Initiative, was also held in New Delhi on Tuesday.

Sharad Yadav of the Janata Dal (United) party and a member of parliament from Bihar State in the Upper House said he supported the international community's call for the release of  Suu Kyi.

Dr. Tint Swe, the Information Minister of the Burmese government in exile, the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB), told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday that, "India is only focused on economic interests with the Burmese military regime. Now India neglects its responsibility toward democracy. We don't expect too much criticism or changes. There is a little chance because the Indian government has done a U-turn in the support for the democracy movement in Burma ever since Rajiv Gandhi."

Lenin Raghuvanshi, an Indian activist and director of the People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights, a grassroots human rights advocacy group based in India's Uttar Pradesh, said Suu Kyi's arrest "will have very serious repercussions for the democracy movement in Burma," calling it a "blatant violation" of human rights.

He said India was wrong to remain silent on Suu Kyi's trial in Insein Prison, noting that she was the recipient of India's prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding.

He urged "India, China and other neighbors of Burma to oppose the military dictatorship and support the non-violent struggle for democracy. It is essential for the region to eliminate the atmosphere of terror perpetrated by the military."

"It is a moral issue for Burma's big trading neighbors, who on the one hand support, tacitly or otherwise, the military regime in Burma, while on the other opposing terrorism," he said.

India, which supported the UN position on Burma in the wake of 2007's Saffron Revolution, has made no public criticism of the ongoing trial.

Sajan George, the chairman of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), appealed to the Indian government to "condemn the arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi" and called for her        "immediate release."

He expressed the hope that she might celebrate her birthday on June 19 as a "free citizen of Burma."
Father Anthony, a Jesuit priest in Madurai (Tamil Nadu), said there is no "freedom of movement" in Burma and "torture of dissidents and political opponents is commonplace."

In recent years, India and Burma have increased bilateral trade and agreed on several major development projects, including Sittwe port and a Kaladan River project.

In 1994, India introduced a "Look East Policy" which is designed to work with Burma's military regime on economic projects.

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