Clinton Pushes India on Human Rights in Burma

Posted July 20th, 2011 at 8:45 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the Burma government's human rights record “continues to be deplorable,” and calls on India to encourage Burmese authorities to engage in dialogue with pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Clinton, speaking Wednesday in India, also urged New Delhi to press the nominally civilian Burmese government to begin releasing political prisoners jailed over more than four decades of military rule.

She said India's leadership should take on new responsibilities in the Asia-Pacific region, including speaking out against human rights abuses. In her words, India has “the potential to positively shape the future” of the region.

She called Indian Foreign Secretary Nirumpama Rao's visit with Aung San Suu Kyi last month in Rangoon a”signal moment,” and urged New Delhi to continue to use its influence to help improve human rights in Burma.

India gradually has been reaching out to Burma's former military junta over the past decade, after years of firm support for Aung San Suu Kyi.

New Delhi has also shown interest in helping Burma deal with separatist rebels based along their common border. It also seeks access to Burmese natural gas and hopes to counter China's growing influence in the country.

The United States and the European Union have been assessing how to work with the new Burmese government since elections in November, which ended direct military rule. However, retired and active-duty military officers hold most key positions in the new government, and critics say little has changed in recent months.