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Indian govt's attitude unsatisfacto

Indian govt's attitude unsatisfactory: Myanmar delegation
Deepshikha Ghosh

The Statesman (New Delhi), November 11, 1997

NEW DELHI, Nov. 10. - The Indian Government's attitude towards the
pro-democracy movement in Myanmar had been decidedly "unsatisfactory",
according to members of the Myanmar delegation attending the two-day
Socialist International meet here.

The vice-president of the National Council for Union of Burma, Mr U Win
Khet, said India being one of the largest democracies, and a neighbour,
had extended only half-hearted support to the movement led by Aung San
Suu Kyi to revive democracy in Myanmar. It was both a "moral and
practical" obligation for India to support democracy in the troubled
country, he maintained.

To support his contention, the delegate said none of the resolutions
passed in the United Nations, in favour of the democratic and ethnic
movement in Myanmar, had been sponsored by the Indian Government.

"We expect the Indian Government to have a clear-cut stand on the Burma
issue and lend all kinds of support to the democratic and ethnic
forces", Mr Khet said. "After all, we have been doing so for India since
colonial rule", he added pointedly.

According to the Member of Myanmarese Parliament representing the
National League for Democracy, Dr Tint Swe, if the Indian Government
initiated some of the resolutions, it would be extremely encouraging for
Myanmar. "We want no arms or money", he remarked.

Last week, the military regime arrested and detained 50 NLD members.
This brought the total of political prisoners to more than a thousand,
including 30 elected members of Parliament. Dr Swe disclosed that the
intimidation was continuing.

"We are not even allowed to hold official meetings", he pointed out. His
colleague, Mr Khet, added that there was only one "military-sponsored"
newspaper in the land. He was himself one active member of the Press who
was forced to close "shop" under the military's reign of terror.

The delegates disclosed that the year-long campaign attracting tourists
to Myanmar had fared miserably. Most Asian countries had built hotels,
which ended up with a paltry 10 per cent accommodation. Recently,
Myanmar had suffered a major setback when Thailand pulled out of the
joint airlines venture with the country, selling its shares to Malaysia.

Dr Swe aired the likelihood of closure of the Indian airlines flights
started recently, after this tourist season was over. He further pointed
towards the virtual halt in Indo-Burma border trading when the market on
the Burmese side adjoining Manipur was burnt down.

Those coming from Tamu to Moreh in India were arrested and forced to
sign an undertaking that if they continued trading in Moreh, they would
be jailed for seven years. "About 200 people, mostly women, were
arrested and detained for one day. People thriving on border trade now
have nothing to live on", the MP said.

The only way out of the prevailing crisis was through "sustainable and
meaningful dialogue" between the democratic forces, ethnic groups and
the military, towards the common aim of reconciliation, Mr Khet pointed

On the possibility of a rapprochement between Sun Kyi and the military,
Mr Khet said "the military is not sincere enough. They are extremely
anxious to cling on to power and keep NLD as their main target".

"Such an approach to the election winning party is hopeless.... it
defeats the purpose of a reconciliation", he-felt. The question of Sun
Kyi parleying with the National Convention, entrusted with the task of
framing a new Constitution, also did not arise, according to the

Mr Khet said, "the National Convention is a shame. It will produce a
Constitution which will only consolidate military dictatorship". This
was the task for the election winning party, he added.