Monday, May 18, 2009

Words must turn into actions on Burma: activists

by Solomon

New Delhi (Mizzima) - The international community’s calls for the release of Burma’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who is currently being tried in a Rangoon court, needs to turn into action that will force the country’s military rulers to free her as well as other political prisoners.

Following the Burmese junta’s charges and the onset of the trial of Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi there has been amounting international condemnation and calls for her release.

David Scott Mathieson, Burma consultant for Human Rights Watch (HRW) in Bangkok, said these calls by governments from around the world should be followed up by actions to force the junta to yield to the calls.

“It is the first step to publicly condemn what’s going on and the next step is governments have to find effective pressure points against the SPDC,” said Mathieson, referring to Burma’s military rulers by their official name – State Peace and Development Council.

“There should be debates in the Security Council about the nature of political reforms and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s place in the political future of Burma,” he said.

Mathieson said it is also crucial for the international community to put pressure on governments including China and Russia, which are supportive towards the Burmese regime.

“Pressure needs to be put on China and Russia and other states that support the SPDC, because they have a lot of influence on the SPDC,” he added.

Detained Burmese democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi on Monday was produced at a special court in notorious Insein Prison on charges of violating her house arrest after an American man allegedly visited her lakeside home and stayed for three nights.

The Nobel Peace Laureate along with her two live-in party mates and the American man, John William Yettaw, are being tried.

Over the weekend and on Monday, several governments including the United States, European Union member countries, as well as Asian countries such as the Philippines and Indonesia, called on Burma’s military junta to desist in trying Aung San Suu Kyi.

“We need to actually understand that she is the symbol for a lot of people in the country,” argued Mathieson.

He said the international community should come up with a specific plan of action including the targeting of financial sanctions and an arms embargo.

Countries joining the chorus of condemnation against Burma’s ruling junta include the United States, United Kingdom, Norway, Canada, France, Australia, Ireland, Switzerland, Philippines, Austria, Germany and Japan.

Nyo Ohn Myint, in-charge of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National League for Democracy-Liberated Area (NLD-LA), said the international community should work in coordination for stronger action in pressuring the Burmese junta.

“The West and the East need to find a common stand on Burma’s political crisis, they should avoid repeating the same mistake, which has not been working,” he prospered.

He said the West, led by the United States, and the East, led by China, should work for more coordination between themselves rather than acting impulsively on their own.

“China is important. They clearly need to do something right now. They need to speak openly at this time because they also do not agree with this trial,” put forth Nyo Ohn Myint.

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