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Burmese exiles appeal for neighbour's help

New Delhi, Fri, 19 Sep 2008 Nava Thakuria
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The pro-democracy Burmese exiles, living in India, have appealed the neighbouring countries of Burma (Myanmar) for a pro-actives role such that the detained Nobel laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi could be freed at the earliest. On the occasion of the 20th Anniversary of Military Coup in Burma, the leaders of the Burmese pro-democracy Movement in India, on September 18 appealed the neighbours including India, China, Thailand and Bangladesh, to initiate for the release of Ms Suu Kyi from the prolonged house arrest set on by the military junta of Burma.

“The most important lesson of 20 years is that we have to count on ourselves and not to trust the greedy and selfish countries which are being ensnared by natural resources and business opportunities which are actually unlawfully monopolised by the regime,” said a statement of the Burmese pro-democracy Movement in India, released for the media on Thursday.

It also added that 'although Burma receives an estimated US$150 million a month in revenues from gas exports, the present regime continues investing a huge sum of money into the military resulting 90% of its population to live on less than $1 per day'. The regime known as the State Peace and Development Council reportedly allocates 40% of its annual budget to military expenditure, where as less than 3% are being spent for education and health. The country has nearly 70,000 child soldiers, which is the highest number in the world.

“There are 2,097 political prisoners including 21 MPs. Since 1988, 137 political prisoners including 3 MPs have to die in custody. Despite having ratified the (ILO) Convention 29 on forced labour, the regime engages in systematic forced labour abuses till today. After Afghanistan and Iraq, Burma under this regime is the world's third largest source of refugees," stated Tun Tun of Burmese pro-democracy Movement in India.

The Burmese exile also added, "During the last 20 years we have experienced scores of disappointments from many other governments.

Miserably the people of Burma lost confidence in the international community. The engagement policy of the ASEAN and the neighbours failed to satisfy themselves as well as the people of Burma. United Nations go down below the credible level and instead of peace keeper it becomes dictator keeper because of a couple of veto wielders at UN Security Council."

While appreciating the role of the western countries, which stood on principles & ethics and sided with pro-democracy movement for 20 years and those, who had imposed sanctions against the perpetrators, and sponsored Burma resolutions at various international forums, the pro-democracy activists expressed optimism," Despite those hindrance, frustration and setbacks, we will not give up the hope of achieving our goal of democracy and the defeat of brutal and despotic military rule. Democracy must come to Burma."

Meanwhile, the research and documentation department of the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB) has come out with the Burma Human Rights Year book 2007. The Human Rights Documentation Unit (HRDU) of NCGUB has published the 14th annual edition of the yearbook which has comprehensively documented the human rights situation in Burma.

“The Burma Human Rights Yearbook 2007 reveals that the human rights situation confronting the people of Burma has not improved since the very first yearbook was published more than a decade back. On the contrary, widespread human rights violations continued to be perpetrated in Burma with near impunity throughout 2007," said a Burmese exile living in India.

The yearbook narrates how the civilian population throughout Burma continues to face numerous incidents of extortion, arbitrary arrest, summary execution, rape, forced labour, religious persecution and ethnic discrimination.

"Whether we look at it in terms of the time elapsed since the Saffron Revolution last year or over a longer timeframe since the uprisings in 1988, the result is the same. The root causes which gave rise to these protests have never been adequately addressed by the regime and the general grievances of the population remain. While it is difficult to say conclusively that the human rights situation in Burma is getting worse, we can say that it certainly isn't showing much improvement," commented Dr Sann Aung, a representative of NCGUB.

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