Message of Restraint

First Lady Laura Bush is joining the diplomatic effort to quell the violence in Myanmar, where soldiers have opened fire on 70,000 protestors, killing nine in the 10th straight day of demonstrations in Yangon, Myanmar's largest city.

Bush told ABC's Martha Raddatz that she is calling on citizens in other nations to put pressure on China -- the country with the most influence in Myanmar -- to urge the generals to exercise restraint.and move toward a democratic dialogue.

The following is a partial transcript of Raddatz's interview with the first lady.

Martha Raddatz: First, your reaction please on the news today that at least nine of the protestors have been killed.

Laura Bush: Well, I'm really sad about that. I think that is really sad. As we watch these protests in Burma [the former name of Myanmar], I've had some cautious optimism. I have, the whole time, been very worried because every other time there have been protestors like this in Burma, the military regime has reacted in a violent way to suppress these protests.

But these are the largest protests that Burma has had in a number of years. And with the Buddhist monks leading a lot of the protests, I thought maybe this time the military regime would not fire on the Buddhist monks -- Burma, as you know, is a devoutly Buddhist country and the monks there are highly revered. But it's sad, sad news out of Burma.

Raddatz: I see you quoted earlier saying you were disappointed in the worlds' reaction or what the world is doing.

Bush:Earlier, or at the end of the summer, at the end of August when I first started hearing about the protests that were coming out of Burma, and that point they were lead by citizens who were protesting the rise in fuel prices that the government had declared overnight actually on the Burmese people, the economy is in such shambles that I was hearing from our charge d'affairs there that employers were saying their employees were skipping lunch because they couldn't afford both the increased bus fare and to eat. So that's really what started the protests.

It was when we were at the ranch and, of course, a lot of people in government are gone during the month of August and I became more and more worried as I read these different dispatches because no one was speaking out.

And so that's when we got back from the ranch is when I called the secretary general. But, of course, since then the U.N. has become very responsive.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has asked the envoy, Gambari, to go back, and he is evidently trying to get into Burma from Singapore, and we hope the Burmese government will let him in.

The issue has gone to the Security Council. Once again the Chinese have said that they would veto a resolution, which is also worrisome. The Chinese are there who are really propping up the military regime with their economic partnership with Burma, using many, many natural resources that Burma has both their oil and gas and a lot of their timber, including teak and other rare woods. And that's worrisome, because as long as the Chinese government props them up, then we have less of a chance of moving to a democracy.

Message to China

Raddatz: What would your message to China be?

Page
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • 3
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...