Thursday, August 13, 2009

India asks Burma to expedite national reconciliation

India asks Burma to expedite national reconciliation
Syed Ali Mujtaba

India has asked the Burmese government to expedite its political reform. India’s reaction comes following the conviction of Burmese pro-democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi for 18 months of detention. Her last period of incarceration had expired at the end of May 2009.

Indian Foreign Ministry that has seen reports of the sentencing of the Burmese pro democracy leader called upon Burma to expedite political reform.

“India has always maintained that it wants Myanmar to expedite national reconciliation,” said India’s Ministry of External Affairs in a statement.

"India has emphasized to the Government of Myanmar the need to expedite their political reform and national reconciliation process, and have noted the various steps taken so far, by the Government of Myanmar in this direction,” the MEA statement added.

"We have maintained that this process should be broad based, including the various ethnic groups. In this context, the issue of release of political prisoners will no doubt receive due attention," the MEA statement said.

Meanwhile, the National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM) in India along with the People's Politics Front (PPF – Lok Rajniti Manch) has also expressed its grave concern on the setback to democracy struggles in Burma.

"It is another big blow to democracy struggles in Burma" said Dr Sandeep Pandey, Magsaysay Awardee (2002) and leader of National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM).

The NAPM and PPF leaders demanded release of Aung San Suu Kyi and other measures to ensure democratic processes strengthen and go forward in Myanmar.

The pro democracy leader of Burma Daw Aung Suu Kyi, was sentenced to three years jail and hard labor by a military court in Rangoon on Tuesday.

The court sentenced her on charges of breaching the terms of her house arrest after a US national, John Yettaw, in May 2009, swam across her lakeside house to meet her, where she was then under house-arrest. She had, allegedly, allowed him in the house, for which both the US national and Aung San Suu Kyi were charged by the court now.

The US national John Yettaw, was sentenced for seven years, including four years of hard labor, while the pro democracy leader was sentenced of three years of jail and hard labour.

The court verdict on Aung San Suu kyi was commuted to 18 months of house arrest by General Than Shwe, Burma's top military ruler who intervened in the matter fearing global outrage.

However, even milder punishment did not stop global condemnation. The European Union has expressed to "respond with additional targeted measures against those responsible for the verdict."

Australia was quoted to consult the international community, including the Asian regional forum ASEAN, "on the need to put even more pressure on the Burmese regime to move down the path of democracy".

Similar statements of support for Aung San Suu Kyi and democracy in Burma came from United States of America (USA), Indonesia, Malaysia, United Kingdom (UK) and France.

India is one of the few countries along with China and Thailand that has trade ties with Burma too has called upon its neighboring country to speed up political reforms and national reconciliation process.

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