ISSN 2330-717X

Urging India For Continuous Support For Burmese – OpEd

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The pro-democracy Burmese activists and their well-wishers around the world have appealed to the Indian Union government for taking an initiative ‘for restoration of peace, justice and human rights in Burma’ as well as in its adjacent Northeast India. They also urged New Delhi to continue supporting the Burmese peoples’ struggle for democracy and human rights in their country. Among other requests to the Indian government, allowing the United Nations High Commission for Refugees to establish its office in Mizoram (or somewhere in the Northeast) for the benefit of thousands of Burmese refugees taking shelter in the region, also included.

The appeal came alive in a memorandum submitted to the Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh on May 24, 2011 by a pro-democracy group Burma Centre Delhi. The memorandum conveys important messages on the recent historic political events which occurred in Burma such as 2008 Nargis Constitution, November 2010 Election, release of Burmese democracy movement leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, convention of Nay Pie Taw Parliament and demolition of the State Peace and Development Council and installation of the New Regime, the military controlled civilian uniform type.

Though from various sources inside and outside Burma it has been reported in the mainstream media that the country is changing, but in reality that exactly is not happening in the so-called democratic set-up. The memorandum included some resolutions reflecting the concern of civil society, advocacy groups and the media in this respect during a consultation meeting on Burma’s regime change at Aizawl (Mizoram) on May 6 last.

“We don’t recognize these changes as democratization but a prolong militarization because of the fact that it places the military above the law, giving the Supreme Court no jurisdiction over the military forces,” said the memorandum of BCD signed Dr Tint Swe, an elected NLD Parliamentarian (1990 election). The memorandum also mentioned about the presence of more than 1 lakh Burmese population in India where Mizoram carries the burden of over 80,000 mostly Chin Burmese people.

“Though India is not a signatory to the 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol, it hosts and accommodates large number of refugees under the protection of the UNHCR. Since India has not yet ratified or acceded to this law, the Burmese refugees in Delhi are treated under the Foreigners Act without clear state’s policy which results in risking their lives as they are vulnerable to insincere and unfair conduct of the concern officials,” added the memorandum.

It also insisted that New Delhi should engage the Burmese Government as well as Aung San Suu Kyi and other ethnic groups of Burma. Burma is ethnically diverse and the failure to address the legitimate rights and aspirations of Burma’s ethnic groups is a root cause of instability and dictatorship in Burma, it asserted.

The copy of the letter was also sent to the Union Home Ministry, National Human Rights Commission of India, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees with the New Delhi based embassies of United States of America, Republic of Canada, Australia, Czech Republic, Norway, United Kingdom and Indonesia.

Other resolutions included supporting the Global Arms Embargo against Burma and proper impact assessments before implementation of developmental projects in the region in line with Free, Prior and Informed Consent-FPIC. It also maintained that any current and future Indian investments in Burma should be both fair and responsible such that local participation in those development projects in Burma is ensured.

Nava Thakuria

Nava Thakuria is a Guwahati (Assam, Northeast India) based journalist

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