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Indian President urged to cancel Myanmar visit

Experts have asked Abdul Kalam to postpone his proposed visit till the junta released pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

india Updated: Feb 09, 2006 15:32 IST

Experts attending a seminar on Myanmar on Tuesday called upon Indian President APJ Abdul Kalam to postpone his proposed visit to the neighbouring country until the ruling junta there released pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The visit, the first by an Indian President, will "tend to legitimise military rule" and weaken international efforts for restoration of democracy and human rights in Myanmar, Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) Director Suhas Chakma said.

The visit will take place at a time when Yangon is under increasing international pressure to allow "full and unrestricted access" to the United Nations Secretary General's Special Envoy on Myanmar to facilitate national reconciliation and monitor human rights situations, he added.

The seminar, organised by ACHR and Mizzima News (run by Burmese people in exile), was attended by parliamentarians Abani Roy, Sharad Joshi and Nirmala Deshpande, JD(U) leader Shambhu Srivastava and All India Forward Bloc Secretary G Devarajan.

It was pointed out that the President's visit could not come at a "more inopportune" moment as the UN Security Council had urged China to prevail upon the junta after the UN Special Envoy Razali Ismail resigned because of denial of permission to visit Myanmar in the last three years.

The seminar rejected the "seven-point road map" to democracy announced by the State Peace and Development Council as an attempt to block the UN from playing an effective role as facilitator for restoration of democracy and national reconciliation in Myanmar.

President Kalam had told reporters in Singapore last week that he will visit Myanmar in the second week of March.

The visit, as part of the government's "Look East" policy, comes three years after Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat's visit to Mynamar in 2003. Earlier, former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had visited Yangon in 1987.

A declaration, adopted at the end of the two-day seminar on "India's role for National Reconciliation in Burma", expressed "deep concern" over increasing cooperation between the Government of India and the SPDC while "systematic violations of human rights" continued in the neighbouring country.

First Published: Feb 09, 2006 14:34 IST