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India criticised by rights group over Myanmar visit
Wed, Jul 21, 2010
AFP

NEW DELHI - A top rights group criticised India Wednesday for rolling out the red carpet for Myanmar's military leader General Than Shwe who will begin a state visit to the country next week.

Than Shwe is set to meet Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Pratibha Patil during his five-day trip to the South Asian giant that begins on Sunday, an Indian foreign ministry source told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), which represents 164 organisations across the world, said in a letter to Singh that it was "deeply troubled" by the visit.

"The long list of the junta's well-documented human rights abuses includes acts that may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity under international law," the group said in the letter, which was also sent to AFP.

The group added that maintaining relations with the Myanmar military leaders "without due regard to universal human rights is unbecoming of the world's largest democracy and a responsible world power."

The European Union, United States and other countries have targeted Myanmar with economic sanctions and travel bans, but the military regime has resisted the moves largely due to support from China, India and neighbouring Thailand.

India was once a staunch supporter of Myanmar democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, who is under house arrest, but shifted its strategy in the mid-1990s as security, energy and strategic priorities emerged.

It is eyeing oil and gas imports from Myanmar, needs help in countering separatists operating along the countries' common border, and is particularly concerned about not losing strategic ground to China in the military state.

 

 

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