China asked to use its influence on Myanmar


Oslo : Twenty former heads of state and government Friday called for political dialogue in Myanmar and urged China to use its influence on the country’s military rulers.

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“We believe China can play an increasing constructive role in convincing Burma’s (Myanmar’s) military regime to participate in peaceful dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy, as well as the country’s ethnic groups,” former Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik said.

The leaders addressed an open letter to China’s President Hu Jintao.

“With China’s support, the UN can facilitate these talks between all parties in Burma. Without China’s support, UN efforts are likely to fail and Burma could continue to spiral into the status of a failed state, with unfortunate regional implications in the short and long term,” they said.

They also called for China to support the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners in Myanmar.

Bondevik has headed the Oslo Centre for Peace and Human Rights since 2006.

Signatories to the letter included former Philippines president Corazon Aquino, Brazil’s former president Fernando Henrique Cardoso, former Irish president Mary Robinson, former Czech president Vaclav Havel, former Colombian president Andres Pastrana as well as former French premier Lionel Jospin and former Finnish Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen.

Meanwhile, the Oslo-based radio station Democratic Voice of Burma received reports that groups of students Friday staged mock funerals of military chief Senior General Than Shwe at several locations in Yangon, the former capital of Myanmar.

The students placed flowers and a photo of the general on the streets. People gathered and cheered but dispersed when police arrived, the station’s news editor Moe Aye said.

Some 20-30 members of the opposition National League for Democracy were arrested at various locations around the country, he said.

People visiting one of the main pagodas in Yangon for prayers were searched and cameras, mobile phones and candles seized.