India, berated for its "weak" response to the recent repression of democracy in Myanmar, joined the international community in seeking the release of incarcerated Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.
This is the first time in "many years" that it has publicly articulated such an opinion. Suu Kyi, who won national elections in that country in 1988, has spent nearly 12 of the past 18 years in house arrest imposed by what a western envoy said was a "repressive, most corrupt regime."
The government sources said India has sought Suu Kyi’s release privately, in bilateral dialogues, whenever the opportunity arose, but chose now to publicly be part of the international consensus in the latest rap to the military junta in Myanmar from the United Nations Human Rights Council.
“Government of India believes that the release of Aung San Suu Kyi would be helpful in terms of the process of democratisation and that she can contribute to the emergence of Myanmar as a democratic country,” Swashpawan Singh, India’s permanent representative to the UNHRC said late on Tuesday.
The UNHRC resolution, adopted by consensus on October 2 in New York, "urges the Government of Myanmar to release without delay those arrested and detained as a result of the recent repression of peaceful protests, as well as to release all political detainees in Myanmar, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi."
Interestingly, China, which along with India shares strategic and commercial ties with Myanmar’s junta, is part of the UNHRC and went with the international consensus.
The Indian government’s insistence on dialogue helped temper the tenor of the UNHRC’s unanimous resolution, the sources said, dropping the imposition of sanctions earlier proposed in the draft resolution prepared by the European Union.
In an ‘EOV’ or explanation of its vote on the UNHRC resolution, the government “regrets” that “the text of the resolution adopted is not fully in conformity” with India’s approach, but expressed its “willingness to work together with like-minded countries towards an outcome that is forward-looking, non-condemnatory and seeks to engage the authorities in Myanmar.”
Shortly after he met Myanmar’s Foreign Minister U Nyan Win earlier this week, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said while India was “concerned” about the situation in Myanmar, he opposed the imposition of sanctions on that country, because they were counter-productive.
According to an official, the explanation reflected “our policy of not exporting our ideology, but being supportive of democratic movements elsewhere.” Contrary to international criticism of its policy, “we are in sync with the rest of world opinion, though we are opposed to coercion and don’t consider strong, coercive language to be helpful.”
India is among few countries that has actively chosen to engage Myanmar’s military junta because of its strategic and commercial interests. Many insurgency-afflicted northeastern Indian states share a border with Myanmar.