Indians appeal to foreign ministry, seek proactive role on Myanmar

Kolkata, March 8 : Nearly thirty Indian jurists, civil rights activists, media personalities and academics who work and write on Myanmar have appealed to the Modi government to play a proactive role for bringing “an immediate end to the current bloodshed and confrontation, and a restoration of peace in Myanmar.”

Most of the signatories hail from India’s Northeast which shares a 1643-kms border with Myanmar.

“We call on the Government of India, as a long-standing friend of Myanmar and its peoples, to urge the regime to respect the will of the people and return to democratic rule,” said the petition to External Affairs Minister Dr S. Jaishankar.

The petition, also copied to Foreign Secretary H.V. Shringla and other officials of the external affairs ministry, called for immediate release of NLD’s supreme leader Daw Aung Saan Suu Kyi, deposed President Win Myint and other senior leaders of democratic parties.

The signatories came up with an six -point charter of demands aimed at the Myanmarese military junta :

* Respect the will of the people and return to democratic rule.

* Refrain from using force against peaceful protesters and allow the right to free speech and
expression, of which the right to protest is a corollary.

* Release Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, President Win Myint and all other civilian political
leaders who were detained after the coup, including those held for the protests.

* Restore the internet in full and respect freedom of the press.

* Restore the suspended laws which protect the right to privacy of individual citizens,
and prohibit arbitrary arrests, prolonged detentions, and search-and-seizure raids on
private property without court orders.

* Initiate criminal proceedings against security personnel and police officers who have
fired or ordered the firing of live rounds at unarmed protesters.

The signatories to the petition asked the Indian Government to urge Indian companies, including state-owned ones, to immediately suspend all commercial ties and proposed deals/joint ventures with the Myanmar military and all affiliated entities, including the two biggest conglomerates, Myanmar Economic
Corporation (MEC) and Myanma Economic Holdings Limited (MEHL).

The petition advocated support for all regional efforts to restore democratic order in Myanmar and urge a
restoration of peace.

The petition said the signatories were aware of India’s realpolitik constraints but asserted that “only an elected civilian government and a military governed by civilian oversight in Myanmar can ensure political and economic security and stability needed for bilateral and regional processes’.

“The political instability created by the coup in Myanmar can have far-reaching implications not
just within Myanmar, but also the region. Notably, it could disrupt the peace processes in India’s
sensitive North-east which shares a long land border with Myanmar by opening the space for
renewed insurgent activity. It could also push vulnerable civilians to cross over from Myanmar,
as has already been reported along the Mizoram-Chin border,” said the petition .

The petition said that the ” coup seriously threatens the ethnic peace process started by the previous
administrations in Myanmar, and the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) framework that
drew 10 Ethnic Armed Organisations (EAOs) to negotiations.”

India’s ministry of external affairs did issue a strong statement on Feb 1, the day of the military takeover in Myanmar but after that have avoided open criticism of the military junta for ostensible security and diplomatic considerations.

The Feb 1 MEA statement said: “We have noted the developments in Myanmar with deep concern. India has always been steadfast in its support to the process of democratic transition in Myanmar. We believe that the rule of law and the democratic process must be upheld. We are monitoring the situation closely.”

The Indian army is keen that the government avoids a direct criticism of the Myanmar military because it banks on it for action against Northeastern rebels based in the neighbouring Sagaing province . India also fears a direct criticism of the Myanmar military junta may drive it totally towards China.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-generated from IANS service.

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