Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Suu Kyi Sentence Stirs World Outrage

The Irrawaddy News

World leaders have expressed outrage over the 18-month sentence in the trial of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and the European Union plans tougher sanctions against the Burmese regime.

Shortly after the sentence was announced on Tuesday, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicola Sarkozy quickly responded.

“I am both saddened and angry at the verdict today…following the sham trial of Aung San Suu Kyi,” Brown said in a statement, adding that the sentence was further proof that the regime is “determined to act with total disregard for accepted standards of the rule of law and in defiance of international opinion.”

“This is a purely political sentence designed to prevent her from taking part in the regime’s planned elections next year,” Brown said. He said that the 2010 elections will not have credibility or legitimacy unless Suu Kyi and other political prisoners are released, and they are allowed to participant in the poll.

Britain will assume the chair of the UN Security Council in August. Brown said, “I also believe that the UN Security Council—whose will has been flouted—must also now respond resolutely and impose a world wide ban on the sale of arms to the regime.”

The leader of another UNSC veto power, French President Sarkozy, also reacted strongly, calling for the European Union to pass tougher sanctions against the Burmese regime.

Sarkozy said that the verdict was “brutal and unjust,” and he will ask the EU to respond quickly by adopting new sanctions.
He said the EU’s new sanctions “must in particular target the resources that they [the junta] directly profit from, in the wood and ruby sector.” He said the gas industry, which supplies Thailand and other countries, should be spared from sanctions, according to the statement.
The EU, now under the presidency of Sweden, also condemned the sentence. The EU presidency statement said that the proceedings against Suu Kyi which stem from “charges which were brought twenty years after she was first wrongfully arrested, have been in breach of national and international law.”

Threatening tougher sanctions on Burma, the EU presidency said that the EU will further reinforce its restrictive measures targeting the Burmese regime, including its economic interests.

“The EU underlines its readiness to revise, amend or reinforce its measure in light of the developments in Burma/Myanmar,” said the statement.

The European Parliamentary Caucus on Burma called the military regime “the real criminal” and said the international community should wake up and take stronger action against the regime.

Among members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nation (Asean), the Philippine Foreign Minister Alberto G. Romulo said that the verdict is “incomprehensible and deplorable.”

Thailand, the current chairmanship of Asean, has not yet issued a statement. Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya said that Thailand will consult with other Asean members before deciding Asean’s next move on Burma following the sentencing, according to The Nation, an English-language newspaper.

After the sentence, several leading campaign groups, such as US Campaign for Burma and Burma Campaign UK, called for the UNSC to pass an arms embargo on the Burmese regime.

“The dictatorship is directly defying the United Nations Security Council,” said Zoya Phan, the international coordinator for the London-based Burma Campaign UK, in a press release. “It is time the generals faced consequences for their actions; a global arms embargo should be imposed immediately.”

In a statement released soon after the verdict was announced, British Foreign Office minister Ivan Lewis said that the British government would urge the UN to impose further sanctions.

"Specifically we now want to see an arms embargo against the regime. We want to see Burma's neighbors, the Asean countries, China, Japan, Thailand, apply maximum pressure," he said.

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