Tue 30 May 2006
Filed under: Inside Burma,News
Kuala Lumpur: Myanmar’s foreign minister on Monday rejected international criticism over the decision to extend opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s house arrest.
“This is not an international issue. This is a domestic issue,” Foreign Minister Nyan Win said when asked about the uproar over the junta’s decision to keep her confined to her Yangon home for another year.
Nyan Win declined to explain why the ruling junta failed to release the Nobel peace laureate.
“You already know it has been extended. The government has already announced it,” he said.
Hopes that Aung San Suu Kyi would be released when her detention came up for review at the weekend had risen after the country’s military rulers unexpectedly allowed her to meet visiting UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari on May 20.
But the extension drew swift international condemnation led by the United States, which has spearheaded efforts to bring Myanmar before the UN Security Council.
Thai Foreign Minister Kantathi Suphamongkhon said he was disappointed by the extension of the house arrest restrictions, but that this should not jeopardise relations with Myanmar.
“We are disappointed but we realise that the communication channels that we (Thailand, ASEAN and the United Nations) have with Myanmar are very, very important,” he said at the meeting.
“So although we do get disappointed but the communication line must continue to be used, and we hope to see concrete progress in national reconciliation and the release of Aung San Suu Kyi.”
Kantathi who has in the past voiced his concern over the Myanmar junta’s increasingly secretive behaviour, said the military-run country was now open to talking about issues “once considered to be off limits.”
“They are now interacting with us and we hope to use this channel of communication to try to create more incentives for Myanmar to move ahead with reconciliation,” he said.
He denied suggestions that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) had failed to engage its neighbour.
“I certainly don’t think that ASEAN has failed. We see this clearly as a process. We have been getting some positive signals from Myanmar and negative signals. So this process will continue… and hopefully we will hear good news soon.”
Aung San Suu Kyi has spent 10 of the last 17 years in detention. Her most recent arrest period began after her convoy was attacked during a political tour of northern Myanmar on May 30, 2003.