Tuesday, June 9, 2009

U.S., Indonesia call for Suu Kyi's release

by Mungpi

New Delhi (Mizzima) - United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday reiterated a call for the release of Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, describing the current trial against her as “baseless”.

Speaking to reporters in Washington after her meeting with visiting Indonesian Foreign Minister Noer Hassan Wirajuda, Secretary Clinton said, “Let me again reiterate that the charges against her [Aung San Suu Kyi] are baseless, and we call for her immediate release.”

She added, “Indonesia, like other ASEAN countries, has also spoken out about her plight and urged her immediate release, and we greatly appreciate that,” referring to the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) of which Burma and Indonesia are both members.

Calling the trial against Aung San Suu Kyi an “unfortunate development”, Indonesian Foreign Minsiter Wirajuda also told reporters that Indonesia has issued a strong statement calling for her immediate release.

“Of course this is an unfortunate development, as we were actually expecting that the case of the detention of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to be reviewed last month with the possibility of her being released,” Wirajuda explained.

He also said, “We remind Myanmar [Burma] of its obligation under the new ASEAN Charter, and likewise through the previous calls made by our leaders, to immediately release Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.”

Members of ASEAN traditionally maintain a non-interference policy regarding the internal affairs of member states. But the ongoing trial against the Burmese democracy icon has led ASEAN to issue statements expressing "grave concern" over developments relating to Aung San Suu Kyi.

Though Wirajuda did not speak about the sanctions policy of the U.S. against Burma during the joint press conference, he earlier commented during a speech at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace that tough sanctions have caused further hardship for the general population of Burma.

He called on the world to help alleviate the suffering of the Burmese people by lifting sanctions and cultivating closer relationships with Burma's military government.

In February, Secretary Clinton, during a visit to Indonesia, acknowledged that the U.S. sanctions policy against the Burmese junta has failed to produce the desired results, but added that a policy of engagement has been equally unsuccessful. The U.S., under the administration of President Obama, is currently said to be conducting an internal review of the country's approach to Burma.

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