Indian Parliamentarians Press Statement on Political Prisoners and National Reconciliation in Burma
- Burma Centre Delhi (BCD) -

6 September 2011, New Delhi

Indian Parliamentarians Press Statement on Political Prisoners and National Reconciliation in Burma

Indian Parliamentarians' Press Conference
"Calling for the release of political prisoners in Burma"
6 September 2011, Press Club of India, New Delhi

New Delhi: More than 100 Indian Parliamentarians urged the new government of Myanmar to release all political prisoners in the country. Mr. D. Raja, member of Indian Parliamentarians' Forum for Democracy in Burma (IPFDB) said that the release of remaining 2000 political prisoners is important and necessary step for restoration of democracy and political freedom in Burma. The political activists are held in the country's 43 prisons and many serving sentences of several decades after trials without getting access to legal representation, he added.

Noting that Burma was the only country in South Asia that was being ruled by a military junta in the 21st century, Mr. D. Raja announced at the press conference organized by IPFDB that 'Parliamentarians cutting across party lines have come together to highlight the cause of the Burmese people for restoration of democracy in Burma.'

A letter, signed by 104 Indian Parliamentarians, urging for the release of all political prisoners in Burma was sent to President Thein Sein through National League for Democracy (NLD) led by Aung San Suu Kyi, Burmese democratic leader and Nobel Peace Laureate as well as recipient of Jawaharlal Nehru International Outstanding Award.

The political prisoners have been languishing in prisons in Burma in the most deplorable and inhuman conditions. Most of them have been sentenced to 65 years and more of rigorous imprisonment, and have little hope of ever leaving prison.

Mr. Syed Azeez Pasha, member of IPFDB, noted that since the elections in November 2010, the human rights situation in Burma has in fact deteriorated. The government has broken ceasefires in Karen, Kachin and Shan State, forcing tens of thousands of people to flee their homes.

Mr. Azeez also urged the government of India to take up the cause of the Burmese people and to impress upon the current Burmese government the urgency of releasing all political prisoners in the country, without which a transition to democracy in Burma was not possible.

India and Burma, he noted, have a long history of friendship and deep cultural ties, which are greatly cherished by both peoples. In the interest of maintaining these ties it is incumbent upon Indians as the citizens of the world's largest democracy, to help promote democracy, human rights, peace and stability in Burma.

The IPFDB was formed in 2005 by Indian Parliamentarians on the initiative of the late Gandhian Nirmala Deshpande. The IPFDB has for long been supporting democracy movement in Burma and recognizes that the release of political prisoners is the first step in the process of restoring democracy in the country.

For More Information, Please contact-
Ms. Thin Thin Aung, Coordinator of IPFDB
Burma Centre Delhi (BCD)
WZ 110-A, (1st Fl), Bodela,
Vikas Puri, New Delhi -110018, India
Ph: (O) +91-11-45660619

Indian Parliamentarians Press Statement on Political Prisoners and National Reconciliation in Burma

Statement by the Indian Parliamentarians' Forum for Democracy in Burma (IPFDB)
Calling for the release of All Political Prisoners towards National Reconciliation in Burma
6th September, 2011 at Press Club of India, New Delhi

Dear friends,

We, members of the Indian Parliamentarians' Forum for Democracy in Burma (IPFDB), would like to remind you that even after the General Elections in November 2010 and despite hopes that the newly-formed government could tackle the issue of political prisoners, there is no amnesty for them as many as 2000 are still detained in Jails. They are held in the country's 43 prisons and many serving sentences of several decades after trials without getting access to legal representation.

The release of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in last November has been a welcome move. However, her release alone does not signify Burma's transition to democracy. The release of remaining 2000 political prisoners is important and necessary for democracy and political freedom in Burma.

Since the elections last November the human rights situation in Burma has deteriorated, with the regime breaking ceasefires in Kachin, Karen and Shan States, forcing tens of thousands of people to flee their homes.

As the Special Repporteur on the situation of human rights in Burma, Tomas Ojea Quintana, noted on 25 August 2011, at the conclusion of his forth visit to the country:

"Also of concern are the ongoing tensions in ethnic border areas and armed conflict with some armed ethnic groups, which continue to engender serious human rights violations, including attack against civilian populations, extrajudicial killings, sexual violence, arbitrary arrest and detention, internal displacement, land confiscations, the recruitment of child soldiers, as well as forced labour and portering."

Madam Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace Laureate and winner of Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding, on her 66th birthday on 19th June 2011, urged to the peoples of India through a Video message- "there are now still over 2000 political prisoners in Burma living under very, very harassing conditions. We would like them to be released as soon as possible. Whether or not, Burma is really heading towards democracy can be judged on how soon these political prisoners can be released. So I would like to call on all our friends in India to work for their release".

India and Burma have a long history of friendship and deep cultural ties, which are greatly cherished by both peoples. In the interest of maintaining these ties it is incumbent upon India, as the world's largest democracy, to promote democracy, human rights, peace and stability in Burma.

To show our solidarity and moral support to the leader of the Burmese democracy movement ,Madam Aung San Suu Kyi and the peoples of Burma, we have launched a campaign to collect the signatures of Indian Parliamentarians to call on the Burmese government;

o to immediately and unconditionally release all prisoners of conscience
o to declare nation-wide cease-fire between the Tatmadaw (army) and armed ethnic groups
o to resolve political conflict through dialogue and to create conditions that would enable individuals living as refugees in various countries abroad to return comfortably to Burma in total safety and security.

The letter was signed by more than 100 Indian Members of Parliament across the parties to be sent to the President U Thein Sein through the National League for Democracy (NLD) party led by Madam Aung San Suu Kyi.

It is our sincere hope that the present government in Burma genuinely strives for the promotion of essential democratic principles and engages in genuine national reconciliation and holds parley with all stake holders for a peaceful solution of political problems through meaningful dialogue.

Thank you for your attention.

Ram Jethmalani, MP
Convener, IPFDB

* This Press Release was sent by M Kim (Burma Centre Delhi (BCD))
The sender can be contacted at kimbo119(at)gmail(dot)com
This PR was webcasted on September 07 2011 .

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