Interview: Indian NDA will consider Burma a priority

Jul 2, 2008 (DVB), George Fernandes, one of the leaders of the opposition National Democratic Alliance, told DVB in a recent interview that if the NDA wins the coming election it will prioritise Burma’s pro-democracy movement.

An experienced politician and former defence minister, Fernandes has been an active and constant supporter of the democracy struggle in India's neighbour Burma.

DVB: What is your opinion on the relations between the Indian government led by the Congress party and the military regime in Burma?

GF: There has been no change in the relations between the two governments. The Indian government doesn't pay much attention to democratic reform in Burma. It only focuses on its economic interests. However, the people of India are different from their government. They support peaceful coexistence between the two countries.

DVB: The international community seriously condemned Burma's military junta when it extended the detention of the country's democracy icon Daw Aung San Suu Kyi but the Indian government kept quiet. Why do you think that was?

GF: The Indian government doesn't care much about Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. It only considers it important not to do anything that displeases the junta.

DVB: The international community channelled aid to cyclone victims through UN agencies because they didn't trust the military regime, while the Indian government only gave relief supplies to the regime. Do you think those supplies reached cyclone refugees?

GF: It should be pointed out if the Indian government gave aid to the junta. The people of India will question their government about the money that was used for purchasing relief supplies for cyclone survivors. I don't think the current Indian government has helped Burma's storm victims effectively.

The Indian government should investigate how the military regime used the aid from India. I am certain that junta authorities misappropriated our aid.

DVB: What are your plans for Burma in the next parliament?

GF: I can't tell you about what we are going to do for Burma in advance. We have been trying our best for our neighbouring country but our efforts have always been blocked by the Congress-led government. What I can assure you is that we cannot hope for anything from the current government for Burma's democracy struggle.

DVB: What will you do for Burma if you gain office in the coming election?

GF: The present government is on the way out and we will form our government soon. We will start working on what needs to be done for Burma once we have formed the government. I want to tell the people of Burma not to be worried about what the current Indian government is doing. We won't join the Congress government at all.

Reporting by Khin Maung Soe Min

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