Saturday, May 23, 2009

UN Security Council Calls for Burma to Release All Political Prisoners

By Tun Kyaw (Narinjara): The 15-member United Nations Security Council on 22 May issued a statement calling on Burma's military generals to release all political prisoners, including opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and expressing concern over her ongoing trial.

The member states of the Security Council repeatedly expressed concern about the political impact of the trial of Aung San Suu Kyi on charges of breaching conditions of her house arrest. The council also repeated its call for the release of all political prisoners in Burma, made in earlier statements released on 11 October, 2007 and 2 May, 2008.

Diplomats said the statement was downgraded to a press statement to get approval from China and Russia, which have close ties to Burma's military regime.

The council also urged the Burmese military regime to bring about the necessary conditions for a genuine dialogue with all concerned political parties and ethnic groups in order to achieve and inclusive national reconciliation.

Critics of the regime say genuine dialogue is a must for national reconciliation in order to reach a political solution in Burma. Aung San Suu Kyi's party, the National League for Democracy, and other democratic forces and ethnic political organizations have repeatedly called on the Burmese military junta to open up a genuine dialogue.

However, the Burmese generals charged Aung San Suu Kyi with violating the conditions of her house arrest for receiving an American intruder in her house earlier this month.

Critics say Aung San Suu Kyi's imprisonment will hurt chances for a peaceful dialogue, creating a more insecure political situation in the country.

Britain's UN Ambassador John Sawer said, "The reiteration of our call for the release of all political prisoners is very pointed when the most prominent of those political prisoners is standing in the dock on, frankly, charges which stand no credibility."

US Deputy Ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo said the council has now added its voice to those of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and other leaders from the region and elsewhere.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in recent days, "I am deeply concerned about what has been happening in Burma in terms of democratization and I am going to urge again the release of political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi."

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