Saturday, May 16, 2009

Thailand urges Burma to end Aung San Suu Kyi's detention

By Supalak Ganjankhundee - The Nation

Thailand yesterday joined the international community in calling for the end of Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's detention as her current term of house arrest expires late this month.

"As the period for the detention is about to came to an end, we hope that there is no more detention", Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya said at a press conference.

The Burmese military junta decided to try Suu Kyi on Monday after American John Yettaw swam across Inya Lake to her residence in Rangoon.

The current term of her house arrest, imposed since 2003, expires on May 27, and her lawyer planned to appeal for her release.

Aung San Suu Kyi could be given a five- years jail term if convicted on the charge of violating her house arrest, which bars her from meeting with outsiders.

Kasit urged the junta to be transparent in its handling of the case.

As chairman of Asean, Kasit said the release of Aung San Suu Kyi would benefit Burma's process of national reconciliation and political reform.

"In connection with the general election next year, we would like to see inclusiveness and the release of political prisoners, he said.

"So I want to repeat what has been the common position of Asean and for the common wish for the betterment and happiness of the Myanmar [Burmese] people," he said.

However, Thailand and Asean would not put pressure to the military junta to get Suu Kyi released, he said.

Senior Asean officials are to meet next week in Phuket to seek if they can do anything to help "rescue" Suu Kyi, he said. Asean ambassadors in Rangoon will also have a meeting to monitor the situation.

Thailand and other Asean countries will dispatch representatives to attend the Burmese court's trail if Burmese authorities allow them to do so, Kaset said.

London-based Amnesty International urged the United Nations Security Council, China, Japan and Asean to take immediate action to intervene for the release of Suu Kyi from the notorious Insein prison.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has also demanded the immediate release of Suu Kyi, is expected to call Asean secretary-general Surin Pitsuwan and Kasit as Asean chairman to consult discuss Suu Kyi's situation, Kasit said.

The United Kingdom, Indonesia and United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon have also called for the unconditional release of Aung San Suu Kyi.

Asked if Thailand or Asean would lobby Beijing to put pressure on the junta, Kasit said China also had a responsibility to support political development in Burma.

"We all have responsibilities, as Asia-Pacific fellows, to see Burma become a progressive society with happiness," he said.

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