NLD says Bush visit will boost opposition morale

Aug 7, 2008 (DVB), Burmese pro-democracy activists in Thailand have welcomed the visit of US president George W. Bush and first lady Laura Bush, who arrived in the country yesterday.

During their visit, President Bush was to spend time meeting Burmese pro-democracy activists while his wife has visited Mae La refugee camp and the Mae Tao clinic on the Thai-Burma border.

Political analyst Aung Naing Oo, who was due to meet president Bush today, praised the US commitment to promoting human rights and democracy in Burma.

"Personally, I would like to tell the president that I am grateful to the United States for its outstanding work for human rights and democracy in Burma," Aung Naing Oo said.

"But, at the same time, I feel that the United States policy is a bit shortsighted," he said.

"Therefore, if I have the opportunity, I will tell the US president to get closer to the Burmese military government and bring it out of isolation, to assist in the building of democratic infrastructure, to practically approach problems and resolve them, and to speak out about and resolve other important national issues, not only relating to democracy and human rights."

While president Bush was meeting opposition politicians and activists over lunch, his wife was due to visit Mae La refugee camp and Dr Cynthia Maung's Mae Tao clinic on the Thai-Burma border.

"She will be touring the clinic for about half an hour and meeting with officials in charge of education and health here to discuss their present difficulties and matters concerning children," Dr Cynthia Maung told DVB.

But tight security surrounding the high-profile visit has kept many patients from the clinic, and over 200 Burmese migrant workers have been detained in Mae Sot in the recent security clampdown.Despite these complaints, U Nyan Win of the National League for Democracy information committee said the president’s visit would provide a morale boost for the Burmese democracy movement."We welcome any support for the Burmese democracy movement from the international community, not just the United States," Nyan Win said.

"Of course, we must praise someone who speaks out for us more than those who are keeping quiet. If you are going to criticise someone speaks out for not doing anything, then what about others who don't even say anything?" he said.

"Do you not see those who are obstructing or using their veto powers? I don't think it is fair to criticise people who are supporting us."

Reporting by Htet Aung Kyaw

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