Ban demands release of Suu Kyi

Ban demands release of Suu Kyi

UN Chief Ban Ki-moon has demanded the release of detained pro-democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi during his meeting with the Myanmarese Prime Minister Thein Sien who is attending the opening session of the General Assembly.

"The Secretary General made clear that the onus was on the government to create the necessary conditions for credible and inclusive elections, including the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners, as well dialogue with all stakeholders," Michele Montas, the spokesperson for Ban said. "The Secretary General reiterated his clear expectation that Myanmar will respond in a timely manner to the proposals he left with the senior leadership of Myanmar during his visit," she said.

During his two-day visit to Myanmar in July, the UN Chief made three demands on Myanmar leadership - to release 2,200 political prisoners, hold free and fair elections in 2010, and resume a dialogue between the government and opposition. Following Ban's visit, Myanmar ambassador to the UN, Than Swe, told the Council, "At the request of the Secretary General Myanmar is processing to grant amnesty to prisoners on humanitarian grounds and with a view to enabling them to participate in the 2010 general elections." But these assurances have not been followed up. Nobel Peace Prize laureate Suu Kyi, 64, has been under detention for most of the past two past decades.

She is the leader of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD), which won the national elections in 1990. The US and other Western nations have been imposing sanctions because of Myanmar's refusal to release Suu Kyi, and the military junta is accused of human rights violations in the country. In the past, China and Russia have vetoed SC resolutions against Myanmar.

"Sanctions are being employed as a political tool against Myanmar and we consider them unjust. I would like to state that such acts must be stopped," he added. In a surprising turn of events on Monday, Washington has announced a new policy of "direct dialogue" with Myanmar but will hold sanctions until concrete steps are taken on democracy, unconditional release of Suu Kyi, and improving human rights record. "For the first time in memory the Burmese leadership has shown an interest in engaging with the United States and we intend to explore that interest," said Kurt Campbell, the Assistant Secretary of State for Asia.

"We will tell the Burmese that we will discuss easing sanctions only if they take actions on our core concerns," he added. The leader of Myanmar also spoke of his commitment to hold free and fair elections. "Electoral laws will be promulgated, and an election commission will be formed so that political parties can be formed and contest the elections," he said. After a trial in August related to the break-in, the military regime extended her house arrest by 18 months, which will prevent her from contesting the elections.