05/16/2012, 00.00
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Burmese Dissident: amnesty and protection before exiles return to Myanmar

President Thein Sein appeals to the Burmese diaspora, who for "various reasons" have left the country. Tint Swe, a political refugee in India: appeal will go unheard unless there are "real improvements" in terms of labor laws and security guarantees. Aung San Suu Kyi in favor of freezing U.S. sanctions.

New Delhi (AsiaNews) - President Thein Sein's call to Burmese exiles to return home will fall on deaf ears unless "there are real improvements" in the workplace, in health, in education. Instead the climate of "suspicion and mistrust" continues to reign which is understandable given the country's situation. This is critical judgment of the appeal confided to AsiaNews by Tint Swe, a Burmese exile leader and representative of the National League for Democracy (NLD) in India. Indeed, his attitude is one of justified distrust: "We should not expect - the doctor and activist adds - a mass return of refugees to the country, given the current "political, social and economic development framework " of Myanmar.

In recent days the Burmese President addressed the millions of citizens in the Diaspora who for "various reasons" (unspecified) have left the country, inviting them to return home and contribute actively to the progress of the nation. In the past, many intellectuals, activists, professionals left the nation to escape the tyranny of a corrupt and repressive military regime, which has stifled the economy and social life. Thein Sein promises "necessary assistance" of the State, to resolve "any difficulties" arising in launching enterprise or employment.

Interviewed by AsiaNews Tint Swe, a member of the dissolved Council of Ministers of the National Coalition Government Union of Burma (NCGUB), composed of exiles who fled in 1990 after the elections won by the NLD which the junta under General Than Shwe never recognized, says that " this is the second such appeal "launched by the head of state. He adds that "a few exiles seem attracted" by the invitation, although observers express positive judgments, because "there are differences from the first." He distinguishes between two different categories of Burmese abroad, "some thousands" of political activists and "tens of thousands" of migrants and refugees. "In this second group - he says - there are those who have settled in another country and for them, even if they wanted to, there is no possibility of return." As regards refugees, continues Tint Swe, there are "improvements in employment opportunities, health, education" so there are very valid reasons to return.

With regard to political activists, however, they prefer to "wait" because of persistent "insecurity" and believe it necessary to understand future scenarios. "The members of 88 Generation student movement - he says - advocate a "dignified" return of political dissidents. Many are calling for a general amnesty and a law that guarantees security." A "critical," step adds Tint Swe, because many organizations including free trade union movement and the NCGUB Burma (FTUB) "are outlawed organizations" and some members of parliament in exile "have been sentenced in absentia to 25 years in prison and the penalties are still enforceable. "

Meanwhile opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has given "cautious" support to the proposal of U.S. Senator John McCain, who intends to suspend his nation's economic sanctions against Myanmar. The Nobel Laureate, participating via videoconference at an event sponsored by the George W. Bush Institute in Washington, said the suspension, "rather than deletion," would be a strong signal of the U.S. government in favor of democratic reforms in Burma. However, there remains the possibility of other paths "if the aspirations of the people" are not met. (DS)


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