Save Burma Ahimsa March in India

(The following Burma news review had to appear in the evening of 2nd of October 2007 but due to the break-down of internet support facilities of BSNL in certain areas of Bihar Zone, it is appearing today  – Rajshekhar)

Today, on the auspicious birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, the father of nation of India; thousands of Burmese as well as Indian well wishers of restoration of democratic rule in Burma organized the historic “Save Burma Ahimsa protests March” in the various cities of India. In the early hours of 2nd of October 2007, at 10 AM in New Delhi, more than hundreds of pro-democracy activists including around fifty monks gathered at Jantar Mantar and started their Ahimsa (Non-violence) march towards Indian Parliament in solidarity with Burmese people and monk’s ongoing struggle towards freedom in Burma. The Save Burma Ahimsa protesters condemned the cowardice mass brutal repression of non-violent Monks protests in Burma by ruling military junta officially known as State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) since last one month against all Buddhist practices and prayed peace for the souls of those monks, innocent peoples and Japanese journalist killed on 26th and 27th of September in Burma.

On the occasion of Save Burma Ahimsa Protest March at New Delhi, many exiled Burmese democratic groups like NLD (LA), All Burma Students League (ABSL) and other Burmese social-cultural organizations extended their whole-hearted support to the ‘ahimsa peace marchers’ and appealed to the Indian Government and people to come out openly for the restoration of genuine democracy and national reconciliation process including freedom of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners in Burma. The NLD (LA) foreign affairs incharge at New Delhi, Mr. U Ram Jeet Verma said to Burma Review, that, “Historically Burma always stood with India, now it is high time that, India as a world’s largest democratic country should also respond immediately and positively to the greatest human rights crisis towards democratic reform in Burma.” Mr. U Ramjeet Verma also said that there is always a dawn after darkness and Burma is also very near to the warm dawn of freedom but what is needed is the solidarity and support of international community including India and China to give pace to this dawn?

The President of ABSL – Mr. Kyaw Than also issued their press release on this occasion entitled, “We Pray to Soul of the Mahatma Gandhi to Save Burma”, and said that, “We fell disturb and hurt by the India’s inaction to prevent such tragedy mete out against Buddhist monks and people who practicing Gandhian way of non-violence with compassion for peace and prosperity in the country, release of all the political prisoners including Aung San Suu Kyi and national reconciliation.” However, Indian Parliamentarian and member of Rajya Sabha and noted Gandhian Social Activists, Sushri Nirmala Deshpande rising on this occasion said that, “Burmese people should not feel alone in their struggle and it may appear from irregular news about restoration of democracy in Indian media that, Indian Government is not serious towards democracy in Burma but the fact is the other side of the truth and Government of India is working seriously for the freedom of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners of Burma as well as the national reconciliation process.”

The ABSL also said that, “It is a tragedy that, the SPDC could not heed the numerous suggestion of international community and the peoples of Burma to embrace reconciliation stance, through sustainable dialogue to end the decade’s long conflict. The SPDC clearly shows its stubbornness to hang to power at any cost, which would not only destabilize regional peace and integrity but also undermine human dignity. So it is high time for international community particularly India to take punitive action and prevent human catastrophe in Burma. It is time now that the international community and India & China particular to condemn Junta’s heinous crime and urge SPDC regime to refrain from brutal and violent war against innocent Burmese citizens and monks.

Mr. Kyaw Than, President of ABSL also said in the Press Release to Burma Review that, “We all are saddened with deep pain by this crackdown of SPDC regime which had never happened in Burmese history, as faithful Burmese Buddhist held high esteem regard to the Monks and none can consider to harm or even none dare to show disrespect against them but SPDC through their evil deed by slaughtering respected Monks proved themselves as Satanic Generals and it become national shame for all Burmese people.”

Apart from Save Burma Ahimsa Protest March at New Delhi, pro-democracy activists also came out openly in thousands against SPDC regime in India’s North-eastern state of Mizoram bordering Burma. According to the reports of Mizzima News, “around two thousands people including leaders of political parties on 2nd of October marched on the streets of Aizawl, capital of Mizoram and urged the Indian government to immediately intervene in the ongoing crisis and pressure the ruling junta to work towards peace and democracy in the country.” In which, leaders of local political party units, including the Bharatiya Janata Party, Mizoram Congress Party and Zoram National Party, strongly condemned the Burmese junta’s heavy handed crackdown on Buddhist monk-led protests last month in Burma.[I]

It is interesting to note that, on 30th of September 2007, many reverend Buddhist Monks protested through Save Burma Ahimsa Protest March in Indian State of Madhya Pradesh at Bhopal and demanded immediate Indian intervention for the restoration of democracy in Burma.[II]

Moreover, on 1st of October 2007, many prominent Indian leaders including – the former Prime Minister, Shri I.K. Gujral, and National Democratic Alliance Convener – Mr. George Fernandes, Bhartiya Janata Party leaders – Mr. V.K. Malhotra and Mr. Vijay Goel, Samata Party leader Mrs. Jaya Jaitley, eminent jurist Fali S. Nariman, environmentalist Vandana Shiva and other important leaders of different segments of Indian society also organized a peace rally at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi for democracy in Burma and strongly condemned the crackdown on protesters by the military junta in Burma and appealed to the Indian government to immediately stop exports of arms to the regime.[III]

The spread of spontaneous ‘Save Burma Ahimsa (non-violence) Peace March’ in many cities of India like – New Delhi, Aizawl, Bhopal etc. after the brutal suppression of Monks protests in Burma strongly suggests to Indian establishment to initiate serious endeavour towards national reconciliation in Burma and to realize freedom of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to truly fulfill the objectives of United Nations General Assembly resolution A/RES/61/271 of 15 June 2007 declaration to observe Gandhiji’s birth anniversary of 2nd October 2007 as International Day of Non-violence. Which reaffirms “the universal relevance of the principle of non-violence” and the desire “to secure a culture of peace, tolerance, understanding and non-violence” across the world including Burma.

  


 

ENDNOTES:


(I) Mungpi, Mizzima News, thousands rally in Northeast India in solidarity with monks in Burma, 2 October 2007.

(II)Up in arms, photo by A.M. Faruqui, The Hindu, Monday October 1, 2007, New Delhi edition, p.3.

(III) Peace Rally for Democracy in Myanmar, The Hindu, Tuesday, 2 October 2007, New Delhi edition, p.12.

 

(The End)

 

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One Comment on “Save Burma Ahimsa March in India”

  1. Dr. Tint Swe Says:

    Re: Can India afford an ethical foreign policy? By Shashi Tharoor
    Time of India
    14 Oct 2007

    That non-argument is just a simple mathematics. Civilization means use of heart and reasoning over head and crude thoughts. Has 15-year experience of current policy on Burma brought tangible pay-back? Is the northeast stable? Has China been checked? Can India acquire a share of Gas?

    Many Indian analysts do not go deep enough into the northeast. Most of the reports are misleading when it comes to Burma army’s actions against the northeast groups. Only Indian intelligent agencies know the ground reality i.e. fake encounters but they naturally don’t speak out. Almost all of northeast groups on the neighbor’s soil are the products of look east. They have never been there before that engagement policy. It is absurd of wanting to resolve that complicated question of the region by military means. Why is Nagaland relatively stable? It is not because of joint military operations. India’s good friend the military junta has no will to entertain India’s worries. The regime provides only shelter and then who is feeding the northeast groups? So India should not rely only on the regime which has never kept promise. India’s patience is too much.

    At a meeting between Burmese democrats and key political parties last week, a retired India official spoke about how he was involved in drug issue talks between India and Burma. But he did not know his counterpart, a week later, was arrested because of involvement in that drug trade. It revealed to whom Indians are talking with.

    I totally agree with a remark by an Indian scholar from BJP in that meeting that Burmese generals are not of a normal army in the world. Pervez Musharraf who can share power with politicians is much better than Than Shwe. Thai army lets civilian government to run. Burmese army wants to make sure that they are in total control and for ever. The regime which does not care for its own country and own people will not do any good for any one else.

    Gas will last well after this junta falls. The country and her people not the military own gas, uranium, timber and etc. The regime which has stopped fighting against its own insurgency will not fight for others’. All arms supplies are to suppress the dissidents.

    It is dangerous that Burmese authorities play India/China card for their own sake and caused a virtual regional cold war.

    After Nehru as the author referred to, India’s neighbor policy is ought to do critical analysis. To go along with who ever is in power is just pathetic. I don’t think India wants or needs to bury all high moralities. The unique nature of India is because of great personalities who had highest moral values. Realpolitik is of the nations with enough material strength. India’s wealth of today is more of moral strength.

    One of the reasons why India made 180 degree turn was lack of strong leadership after Rajiv Gandhi. Surrounded by unstable neighbors, the coalition and weak governments just wanted peace with Rangoon. It cannot be interpreted as Realpolitik.

    If I am not wrong public opinion is the key in Indian democracy. Wherever we go and whoever we meet Burmese pro-democracy movement receives strong support. But when it comes to foreign policy it seems different. Moreover and more importantly Indian public opinion does not necessarily mean only the views of high education. Even among the high caliber officials, military views prevail in Indian foreign policy of this decade. It is especially true in the approach to Burma. It is because for the changed relation with Burmese army, military to military relation was the first to come. It is not good enough today. That army has shown true face to the world.

    Democracy is inevitable in Burma and if the current approach is not changed by now, then India will have to work hard for a decade or two to reestablish good relation. I don’t think India will have another Bangladesh.

    The domestic situation in Burma has changed. World view on Burma has dramatically changed. Even China is making a few alterations. Why has India to keep in the hard nut? At one hand India is so conservative and at the same time India wants to forget good traditions. How can it be?

    Following the early silence, India’s expressions towards Burma become wiser. It is good that India is along with the international consensus on Burma: inclusive problem solving and national reconciliation through dialogue. MEA’s late but correct approach should not be discouraged by old thinking of 15 years ago. Diplomacy does not necessarily mean black and white. While practicing black approach it is worthwhile to add a few white touches. Going all along with the generals and forgetting Aung San Suu Kyi is not a wise strategy. India needs a new Burma strategy.

    All correct moves taken by India recently are at the United Nations by participating in friends of Burma group and invitation to UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari. The game of today is “Talk” between Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and Senior General Than Shwe. India can’t afford to let them do their business and I’ll do my own. India must be pro-active in that Talk process.

    In stead of following all foot steps taken by China, unique India should be innovative. The Gandhians can play a role as purely nonviolent movement has turned the table. Passionate India should offer sympathy to victims of brutal crackdown. Mother of Buddhism should lend a helping hand to Burmese monks who have been killed, detained, tortured and disrobed. Powerful Indian student unions should voice for safety of Burmese student leaders who are being brutally interrogated.

    Talking about national interest, a democratic neighbor is real short as well as long term Indian interest. One thing India has to make sure is not to be late. This is time to compete for Burma at transition. It is right time to invest for Indo-Burma relation and to show true colors of India: Morality, Realpolitik and Courage.

    Tint Swe
    (A Burmese parliamentarian taking asylum in India)


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