Suu Kyi underlines India’s strategic approach to Myanmar

November 24, 2010

Aung San Suu Kyi, the Myanmarese pro-democracy leader who was released from seven years of continuous house detention on Nov 13, used her first interview with an Indian media organisation to criticise the world’s largest democracy for its foreign policy towards the military junta-ruled nation.Aung San Suu Kyi addresses supporters outside her National League for Democracy party headquarters in Yangon November 14, 2010. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

“I am saddened with India. I would like to have thought that India would be standing behind [the pro-democracy movement]. That it would have followed in the tradition of Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru,” Suu Kyi told the Indian Express on Wednesday.

“I do not oppose relations with the Generals but I hope that the Indian government would talk to us as well. I would like to see talks begin immediately. I would like to see close and friendly relations, like those that have not been seen recently.”

India has developed close ties with Myanmar over the past two decades, largely in reaction to China’s strong presence in the country and New Delhi’s fears that large Chinese investments in the wider region are part of a plan to encircle India in a “string of pearls”.

Suu Kyi’s comments follow similar remarks from U.S. President Barack Obama, who chastened India for shying away from “violations of human rights” during his landmark speech to parliament in New Delhi last month.

“When peaceful democratic movements are suppressed — as in Burma — then the democracies of the world cannot remain silent,” Obama told the assembled lawmakers.

Having initially supported Nobel Laureate Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy, New Delhi shifted its strategy in the early 1990s to court the military regime.

Since then, it has funded the development of a port on the country’s northwestern coast, built roads and railways there, and has supplied arms to Yangon as it competes with Beijing for Myanmar’s oil and gas resources. India, which shares a 1,645-km (1,000-mile) border with Myanmar, is the country’s fourth largest trading partner.

India has also refused to heed calls from other international democratic nations to exert pressure on the military regime. In 2009, India refused to support International Labour Organisation criticisms of forced labour in Myanmar, while in 2007, then-Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee appeared to ignore widespread protests and the tough military crackdown in the country by repeating word-for-word the same speech on the need for closer ties he had delivered earlier that year.

Human rights organisations have said India has “mortgaged its voice on political and human rights issues” for economic gain, while this month former Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor wrote that “from standing up for democracy, India had graduated to aiding and abetting the military regime.”

It is an approach that Suu Kyi, who graduated from New Delhi’s Lady Shri Ram College and lived in India prior to her return to Myanmar in 1988, hopes to shift away from pure economics:

“I would like India to remember that the two countries have been through thick and thin together. We have fought together against colonialism. It is now time to maintain steady in that direction and encourage a valuable friendship,” she said.

But with Chinese investment in the country soaring to over $8 billion this fiscal year and New Delhi anxious of its rival’s expanding influence in the Indian Ocean region, will India risk its ties with the junta in standing up for democracy?


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

Someone said this about the holocaust: “Thou shalt not be a victim, thou shalt not be a perpetrator, but, above all, thou shalt not be a bystander.”

Indian leadership needs to think beyond economy and GDP. And think beyond China. Chinese give a damn about what we are doing, this paranoia is one sided and has taken us away from what our past leaders always stood for

There is another one from Reverend Martin Niemoller: “In Germany they first came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me-and by that time no one was left to speak up.”

Posted by Windturner | Report as abusive

Indian politicians have always been without any morals and ethics. It was surprising that they supported the South Africans against the Apartheid but then China was not a dominant factor. Suu Kyi is absolutely right when she admonishes the Indian Govt. and their policies towards Myanmar. It is absolutely shameless on the part of the Indian Govt. treats the democratic movement in a shaby manner. Most or even all the Indian politicians do not know what Suu Kyi’s father did for India. It is painfully disgraceful.

Posted by Letsdoit | Report as abusive

I have gone through the synopsis of subject matter under discussion and the two comments on it. It is for the first time that a Lady out of personal practical experience spelled out the bitter truth with sadness, which she would never have if she had had a word of sympathy from India on and for Burmese democracy during her days of detention.

Suu Kyi forgot that India is that country that can lay itself to any country, and can betray a friend in time of danger for money. It is a greedy country, as is reported that India has established a puppet government and through it is running a single party rule in a nascent democratic country in the east. The population of that country is reported to hate India for its interference and helping one party rule openly, opined a number of political Observers of the area.

Over and above it, various disputes like water, border marking, and sea demarcations is pending for decades they said. They further added that as it is a small country the opposition alleges that India gag them not to talk with show of their might.

Foreigners are amazed seeing the surface of Indian beauty but only few know them what monstrous they look like from inside. Chinese know them better as the lived, ate and slept together with Indian for many decades. That is why Chinese have already trapped them through Myanmar in lucrative trade or business deal. Here US are too late to enter.

Say, do and support how much the Indian will not buzz an inch from where they are now because of one fear Chinese may not attack their back when they are at sleep, over and above by the time US to help, the game would be over by then.

So Suu Kyi may have grievances against India but India cares a damn about her feeling and comments.

India is a coward nation. It can boast of its military power in the region, but when it comes to confrontation with equals it is on record it could not do well with its opponent Pakistan. Except in 1971 when India with the help of Russia helped the then East Pakistan to secede. India is very good in conspiratorial, genocide committal and in Human Rights violation activities..

Political Observers opined that Suu Kye should shun Indian help in her fight to establish democracy in Myanmar or else accepting help from India may cost much more that she can estimate in figures.

Posted by KINGFISHER | Report as abusive