National Press Club

Amnesty International Says Burma Policy Too Hasty

September 29, 2009 | By Peter Hickman | pjhickman@hotmail.com

The U.S. should not revise its policy toward Burma until an American citizen and pro-democracy advocate is released from detention, Amnesty International's advocacy director for international issues told a Sept. 28 Newsmaker.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said last week that the U.S. will "begin to engage with ... Burmese leaders to bring democracy to the nation."

But T. Kumar said the Obama adminsitration "should first immediately take steps to stop the torture and ill-treatment of (Kyaw Zaw Lwin) and get him released. Get him out, then talk."

Burma's state newspaper reported that Lwin, who was arrested Sept. 3, had entered Burma to "create unrest within the country...in collaboration with internal anti-government elements in Myanmar."

Burma is also known as Myanmar.

"This is the first test for the United States' new policy of engagement," Kumar said. "Amnesty International hopes this new (policy) also covers protecting human rights in Burma. If Secretary Clinton fails to act, there will be many questions about the United States' latest strategy to end the oppression of the Burmese people. It will give the world the impression America is not serious about human rights."