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Letter to The Honorable Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India

Members of the Senate Women's Caucus on Burma Urge the Prime Minister of India to Exert Pressure on the Burmese Military Junta to Restore Democracy and Respect for Human Rights

The Senate Women's Caucus on Burma, led by U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), today implored the Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh, to join the international community in exerting pressure on the Burmese Military Junta to restore democracy and respect for human rights in the country.

"As the world's largest democracy, India should use its influence to put pressure on the regime to stop the violence against pro-democracy activists, release all political prisoners including Aung San Suu Kyi, and begin a true national dialogue on national reconciliation that will lead to a restoration of democratic government," the bipartisan group of Senators wrote in a letter to Prime Minister Singh.

The Senate Women's Caucus on Burma, which was launched in May this year, includes Co-Chairs Feinstein and Hutchison, and Senators Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Blanche Lambert Lincoln (D-Neb.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.).

Following is the text of the letter sent by the members of the Senate Women's Caucus on Burma to Prime Minister Singh:

October 23, 2007

The Honorable Manmohan Singh
Prime Minister
Republic of India
New Delhi, India

Dear Prime Minister Singh:

We are writing to ask your government to join the growing international condemnation of Burma's military government and its brutal repression of its own citizens.

As the world's largest democracy, India should use its influence to put pressure on the regime to stop the violence against pro-democracy activists, release all political prisoners including Aung San Suu Kyi, and begin a true national dialogue on national reconciliation that will lead to a restoration of democratic government.

We believe that the United States and India share a firm commitment to the rule of law and democracy, a quest to expand prosperity and economic opportunity worldwide, and a desire to increase mutual security against the common threats posed by intolerance and terrorism.

Because of these values that we share, we are concerned that recent actions by India, including high-level visits by members of your government to Burma, may be interpreted as implicitly supporting the military junta, the State Peace and Development Council. We understand that Petroleum Minister Murli Deora visited Burma, even as the protests were reaching a crescendo, to discuss energy cooperation and to sign a deep-water exploration deal.

In addition, we are also deeply concerned about reports of India's ongoing military and technological support for the military government in Burma. We understand that India has supplied the Burmese military with military hardware, including field guns and howitzers. The Indian Navy has provided the Burmese military with BN-2 "Defender" Islander maritime surveillance aircraft, deck-based air-defense guns and surveillance equipment.

We understand India's geopolitical imperatives and its desire to maintain good neighborly relations with Burma. We appreciate the threat posed by militant groups in northeastern India close to the Burma border. As the host to thousands of Burmese seeking refuge in India, the threat of an increasing torrent of refugees is certainly of serious concern to you.

But we firmly believe that any support for Burma's current government will only aggravate these problems. A stable, representative civilian government in Burma will be the best ally in addressing these problems.

As a regional leader and one of the chief trading partners of Burma's government, India has a unique responsibility to help democratic forces in Burma. Mr. Prime Minister, as proponents of closer ties between the United States and India, we urge you to join the United States in leading the global effort to support the people of Burma.

Sincerely,
Senator Dianne Feinstein
Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison
Senator Barbara Boxer
Senator Maria Cantwell
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton
Senator Susan Collins
Senator Elizabeth Dole
Senator Amy Klobuchar
Senator Mary Landrieu
Senator Blanche Lambert Lincoln
Senator Claire McCaskill
Senator Barbara Mikulski
Senator Lisa Murkowski
Senator Patty Murray
Senator Olympia Snowe
Senator Debbie Stabenow

Cc: The Honorable Nicholas Burns
Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs


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