PM dismisses Jackson's call for Burma pressure

Bangkok Post - Friday, November 07, 2003

Rangoon 'should not be humiliated'
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra yesterday dismissed US human rights advocate Jesse Jackson's call for international pressure on Burma, saying Thailand will not press Rangoon to restore democracy and release opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Bangkok Post Though agreeing with Mr Jackson that Ms Suu Kyi should be released, the premier said Thailand preferred not to apply pressure.

Mr Jackson made the call on the United States, the United Nations and Thailand to pressure Rangoon, during his visit to Baan Pang Khwai Karen refugee camps in Mae Hong Son on Wednesday

Mr Thaksin said after meeting with Rev Jackson at Government House that the government had the same goal as the international community to push for the freedom of Aung San Suu Kyi as well as reunification, ceasefire and democracy in Burma.

However, methods must be different because Thailand was a neighbour of Burma and could not be outspoken.

''It [Burma] has pride to care about. We cannot apply pressure. Without pressure, she will agree. There must be peaceful means. Obvious pressure will humiliate Burma,'' he said.

''Burma can free Mrs Aung San Suu Kyi any time. But it cares about who will get the credit,'' Mr Thaksin said.

Mr Thaksin will visit Burma on Nov 10-12 during which he will meet Burmese Prime Minister Khin Nyunt and chief of the ruling State Peace and Development Council Than Shwe.

The civil rights activist, accompanied by his wife, children and religious leaders, visited the refugee camp to talk to village committee members, youth and non-governmental organisation staff.

He promised to seek financial support from the global community for Thailand to take care of refugees in Mae Hong Son and Tak. Baan Pang Khwai shelter houses 3,808 families or 18,256 Karen refugees who have been in Thailand for about eight years.

Bangkok Post