Tuesday, July 7, 2009

India urged to stop helping Burmese junta

by Salai Pi Pi

New Delhi (Mizzima) – The Indian government has been exhorted to stop helping the Burmese military regime by student leaders and journalists from Northeast Indian states, who in a show of solidarity, demanded the unconditional release of Burmese Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

Dr Samujjal Kumar Bhattacharya, advisor of the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) on Tuesday said he supports restoration of democracy in Burma and urges India to initiate a move for the immediate release of Aung San Suu Kyi, currently being tried in Rangoon’s Insein prison court.

“We want democracy to be restored there and at the same time, the leader [Aung San Suu Kyi] should be released,” Samujjal Bhattacharya told Mizzima.

Journalists and student leaders from Northeast India voiced their demand as India continues to be silent about the trial of Augn San Suu Kyi and has steadfastly refused to join the global outcry against the junta.

Nava Thakuria, a Guwahati-based Assamese journalist said, India as the largest democracy in the world should review its ‘Look East’ policy, which claims to be based on its national interest.

Thakuria said the focus of India’s foreign policy on Burma is to counter China’s influence in Burma and flush out all Northeast militants based in Burma’s northern Kachin state and North-Western Sagaing division with the help of the military regime.

“But we can say this policy has failed, as there are still many Northeast militants sheltered on Burmese soil,” he added.

In a show of solidarity, Indian journalists, social activists and student leaders of Northeast India on July 4, held a round-table meeting highlighting ‘India’s policy on Burma: A northeast Perspective’, in Guwahati, capital of Assam state.

Indian students, journalists and activists called on India to stop supporting the Burmese regime especially with the sale of military hardware.

“India has sold military hardware including helicopters and tanks to the Burmese military regime earlier. We urge them not to sell more armaments in the future because they are used for repressing the people,” said Thakuria, who also acted as the contact person for the Roundtable discussion in Guwahati.

He said, while New Delhi has boosted bilateral trade with Burma, it should also accommodate Burmese pro-democracy activists in exile to help their political cause.

India and Burma, in recent years, have stepped up bilateral trade relationship. The Indo-Burmese bilateral trade for the fiscal year 2007-08 stood at US $ 901.3 million with Burma's export to India standing at US $ 727.85 million.

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