Human rights body urges China to help end Myanmar repression


Beijing : A New York based human-rights group has called on China to use its considerable clout to push the ruling generals in Myanmar to end state repression.

Support TwoCircles

China is one of the largest investors and suppliers of weaponry to Myanmar, and the New York based non-governmental organisation Human Rights Watch, in a letter to Chinese President Hu Jintao, said the country should take concrete steps to end repression.

In September, Myanmar’s military government cracked down on peaceful protesters, killing at least 10 and arresting hundreds, including Buddhist monks.

“Chinese officials have publicly called for ‘cooperation’ and ‘dialogue’ between the Burmese generals and their critics, but said nothing when these critics were arrested, disappeared or killed,” said Sophie Richardson, Asia advocacy director of Human Rights Watch.

In the letter, Human Rights Watch noted that Aug 8, 2008 – opening date of the Beijing Olympics – will also be the 20th anniversary of the 1988 pro-democracy protests in Myanmar, “during which an estimated 3,000 people were killed”.

“Although the Chinese government chose the date for symbolic reasons, recent events in Burma and China’s ties to the military government mean that the spotlight on that date will also be on the continued suffering of the Burmese people,” the letter states.

Human Rights Watch urged Hu to place an embargo on all weapon transfers to Myanmar and suspend all military cooperation.

Other measures suggested by the human rights group included supporting UN Security Council resolutions calling for sanctions and other collective action to address the crisis in Myanmar, and allowing anyone fleeing persecution in Myanmar to cross the border into China.

“If China takes a strong stand on Burma now, it will be credited rather than criticized on 08-08-08,” said Richardson in the letter.