Indian socialists and communists express solidarity with Burmese protestors, call for UN sanctions

by M Rama Rao, Asian Tribune, Sept. 29, 2007

New Delhi, India -- As the pro-democracy protests rage in the streets of Yangon, several Indian leaders have called for UN sanctions against the military regime. The Communist party of India Marxist has expressed solidarity with the people of Burma. Before George Fernandes joined the Vajpayee government as defence minister, his residence on the Krishna Menon Marg, was a sanctuary of sorts for the underground activists from Myanmar and Tibet.

George Fernandes, veteran socialist leader and former defence minister, who, along with former Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral, is planning a Citizens' March in Delhi, asked the Manmohan Singh government to take a forthright stand on the regime.

Speaking to Asian Tribune, Fernandes, who has been the odd man out in Indian politics by patronizing publicly the Tibetan and Burma causes, said, some thing should be done by the world body. It should take the initiative instead of merely talking to come to the rescue of the people of Burma. He agreed that sanctions have never been an effective weapon but that would mark a beginning of determined action to bring the junta to heel.

Fernandes, who held the defence ministry, in the Vajpayee government, is unhappy at the 'muted' response of Indian government to the events in Myanmar. "I am very angry at government behavior. It is a disgrace to mankind. India boasts about being number one democracy in the world. Where is it now when Myanmar people are crying for help from democratic forces?"

The socialist leader admitted that his own NDA government too did not do much 'after some time' to go to the aid of Myanmar people. "After a certain time out government too had failed in the sense senior leaders and officers started going there".

Before he joined the Vajpayee government as defence minister, George Fernandes's residence on the Krishna Menon Marg, was a sanctuary of sorts for the underground activists from Myanmar and Tibet. His residence is not far away from parliament and President's House. After he became a minister, he naturally came to face flak. His prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee did not raise any objections to his known 'tilts' though. Most of these youth, according to Fernandes's aides had moved out – not all but most -to western suburbs of the city to carry out their activities.

There is a view here that China and oil are the twin factors that have been influencing Delhi's Myanmar policy. Just two days back a high level petroleum ministry delegation was in Yangon.

But in the backdrop of fast changing scene in Myanmar, Indian foreign policy appears to be getting recalibrated though its extent and depth are still to unfold clearly.

The Politburo of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) meeting in Kolkata issued a statement expressing 'solidarity' with the people of Burma in their struggle for restoration of democracy in their country.

George Fernandes however is critical of the Communists asking why they have been silent all this while when the junta was unleashing worst forms of suppression.

Communist Call

The CPI (M) statement said the politburo extends 'its support' to the people of Burma (Myanmar) who have been struggling for long for the restoration of democracy. 'The mass protests in the past ten days are an expression of the deep desire of the people for democratic system and a better life'.

Saying that the military government has unleashed repression on the peaceful protest marches, the CPI (M) has appealed to all the democratic forces in India to stand by the people of Burma in their heroic struggle.

It asked the Manmohan government to 'utilize' all political and diplomatic channels to 'impress' upon the military government to 'cease repression' and to 'initiate talks' for a democratic transition.

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