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India silent as Myanmar cracks down on monks

Sep 27, 2007 09:31 PM IST India India

New Delhi: Officials in Yangon say at least nine people have been killed and 11 injured in a continuing military crackdown on monks who have been protesting for more than a week. On Thursday too, clouds of tear gas rose above the streets of Yangon, scores of beaten and bloodied monks and students were herded into trucks for the prison where opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has reportedly been shifted from house arrest. The crackdown on pro-democracy protestors is underway and intensifying and the world is speaking out, including Myanmar's closest friend – China. “We hope all parties involved in the issue keep restraint and solve current problems properly. They should not make the situation more complicated and intensified,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman, Jiang Yu. in contrast, the world's largest democracy has ignored the protests for weeks. India finally broke its silence on Wednesday, urging peaceful dialogue and broad based political reform. “India hopes to see a peaceful, stable and prosperous Myanmar where all sections of the people will be included in a broad based process of national reconciliation and political reforms,” said Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee. But many are shocked by the Congress-led government’s tepid response. After all, as early as the 1980s, it was then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi who had championed democracy in Myanmar. “I not only resent but also feel embarrassed at India's spokesperson's comments,” said former PM I K Gujral. South Block says its not in the business of preaching democracy that it’s in India's interests to do business with whoever is in power in Myanmar. On the other hand, China has recently and publicly called for democracy. It has also arranged meetings between American and Mynamerese officials. Perhaps Beijing's growing influence with Myanmar will eventually force India into repositionioning its own policy.