Wed 30 Nov 2005
Filed under: International,News
The United States asked the UN Security Council to put Myanmar on its agenda for the first time, accusing its military rulers of repressing political opponents, including Aung San Aung San Suu Kyi, the pro-democracy leader.
In a letter to the Council president, U.S. Ambassador John Bolton accused the regime on Tuesday of destroying villages, targeting ethnic minorities and failing to initiate democratic reforms. He also cited press reports that the Burmese authorities are seeking nuclear power capabilities. Russia and China blocked the last U.S. attempt to get the Security Council to discuss Myanmar in June, and it is unclear whether they will do so again.
Bolton’s letter to Andrey Denisov, Russia’s ambassador to the UN and the current Council president, was sent two days after the military government extended the house arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi, which began in May 2003. The Nobel Peace Prize winner has spent 10 of the last 16 years in detention.
The junta took power in 1988 after suppressing pro-democracy protests. It held an election in 1990, but refused to recognize the results after a landslide victory by Aung San Suu Kyi’s party.
In Tuesday’s letter obtained by The Associated Press, Bolton said “the United States and other members of the Security Council are concerned about the deteriorating situation in Burma.”
Bolton is expected to raise the issue at a Security Council meeting on Wednesday and the United States is hoping for a briefing later this week, a U.S. official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the letter has not yet been formally discussed.
Procedural rules prohibit the Council from taking up issues not on its agenda, allowing nations to block discussions.
Since the last attempt in June, American diplomats have gone to several key capitals to try to convince other governments that the 15-nation Council should discuss Myanmar.
China has long opposed taking up Myanmar because of its close ties to the country, while Russia is believed to object because it fears such talks could lead to discussion of its breakaway Chechnya province.
Bolton did not spell out any specific action that Washington is seeking. He warned, however, that the flow of narcotics from Myanmar is a catalyst in spreading HIV and AIDS “and potentially destabilizing transnational crime.”
In addition, Bolton wrote, the regime “has destroyed villages, targeted ethnic minorities, and forced relocations.”
He also said that the government’s “failure to initiate democratic reforms while repressing political opponents shows the regime’s continued intent to maintain power regardless of its citizens’ desires.”
November 30, Agence France Presse
Norway calls for release of Aung San Suu Kyi
Norway’s government on Wednesday condemned Myanmar’s military rulers for extending the house arrest of Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi and demanded her immediate release.
“Norway calls for the immediate liberation of Aung San Suu Kyi.
This would be an important step towards reconciliation and democratization in Myanmar,” Norwegian Foreign Affairs Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere said in a statement.
On Monday, Myanmar’s military junta announced that Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been detained for 10 of the past 16 years, would be held for another six months.
The decision came just a week before a new National Convention session, where hand-picked delegates are working on a new constitution for Myanmar that would give the military’s commander-in-chief the power to appoint one-quarter of the members of parliament.
“It is regrettable that Aung San Suu Kyi and her party, the National League for Democracy, will not be able to participate in the constitutional process that will begin again on December 5,” Stoere said.
Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party won the 1990 elections but was never allowed to govern. Its offices have been shut down by the junta and she has never had the opportunity to receive the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize awarded her in Oslo in 1991.
The prize money was instead given to her husband and their two sons.
Aung San Suu Kyi has had virtually no contact with the outside world since her last detention period began in May 2003. Her house arrest was last extended by 12 months one year ago.