Suu Kyi seeks support in democracy push

November 15, 2012 - 7:17:49 am

Chairperson of The National League for Democracy of Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi, and Chairperson of the Congress-led UPA government Sonia Gandhi with books authored by Suu Kyi during her Nehru Memorial Lecture in New Delhi yesterday.

NEW DELHI: Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi urged the people of India to help her country achieve democracy as she paid a landmark visit yesterday to New Delhi.

“We have not yet achieved the goal of democracy and we are still trying and we hope that... the people of India will stand by us and walk by us as we proceed along the path that they were able to proceed down many years before us,” said Suu Kyi on her first visit in 25 years to Myanmar’s giant neighbour.

Suu Kyi spoke of her sadness that India, which had been one of her staunchest supporters, changed tack in the 1990s and began to engage with Myanmar’s junta at a time when it was a pariah in the West.

“I have been asked whether I have been disappointed that India had not stood staunchly by us through the years of struggle for democracy,” she said at an annual lecture in memory of India’s first post-independence prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru. “I was saddened to feel that we have drawn away from India or rather India has drawn away from us during our very difficult days,” she added.

The talks between Manmohan Singh and Suu Kyi lasted for half-an-hour. “The two leaders also had one-on-one talks without aides,” Syed Akbaruddin, spokesperson of the external affairs ministry, told reporters here. 

In his interaction with Suu Kyi, the prime minister lauded her “indomitable courage” and her life-long struggle to bring democracy to the resource-rich Southeast Asian country. 

“Our good wishes are with you as indeed with your struggle for democracy. We admire you for the indomitable courage you have shown,” the prime minister told Myanmar’s opposition leader. 

“The two discussed a variety of issues, including the national reconciliation process underway in Myanmar and the process of democratisation in this context. The prime minister welcomed the progress made by Daw Suu Kyi and President Thien Sien,” said sources. The two agreed that people-to-people relations were important, said the spokesperson. 

They agreed to look at greater exchanges between parliaments and judiciary of the two countries, he added. The Nobel peace prize winner, who was released from military house arrest in 2010, had earlier been praised for her “indomitable courage” at talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Singh had invited Suu Kyi to New Delhi when he visited Myanmar in May to try to boost trade and counter the influence of regional rival China.AFP/IANs