Wed 30 May 2007
Filed under: International,News
European Union and Asian nations urged Myanmar’s military government to lift restrictions on political parties and to end the five-year house arrest of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Foreign ministers of EU and Asian countries made the appeal on Tuesday at the end of two days of talks, in which Myanmar’s Nyan Win participated.
The ministers expressed “deep concern on the lack of tangible progress” in commitments made by Myanmar’s military leaders to introduce democratic reforms, according to a statement released by the host nation Germany. The foreign ministers urged Myanmar to ensure the “early lifting of restrictions placed on political parties and the early release of those under detention,” including Suu Kyi.
They also urged Win at the meeting to live up to an agreement it signed to ban forced labor.
Japanese Foreign Ministry spokesman Mitsuo Sakaba said Win disagreed with his counterparts’ tough stance against his country during talks here, and defended his government’s decision to keep Suu Kyi under house arrest.
The EU and other supporters of Suu Kyi had already condemned last week’s decision by Myanmar’s military government to extend her house arrest by one year.
Suu Kyi, leader of the opposition National League for Democracy party and winner of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize, has spent more than 11 of the past 17 years in detention.
Officials said EU ministers reiterated criticism against the undemocratic rule of Myanmar’s military junta on Tuesday.
Myanmar, also known as Burma, joined the 45-nation Asia-Europe Meeting grouping in 2004 along with Vietnam and Cambodia despite reservations by the EU, which has imposed diplomatic and economic sanctions on the Asian country.
EU foreign ministers ignored Win during a pre-dinner reception on Monday at the start of the two-day EU-Asia ministerial meeting.
The military took power in Myanmar in 1988 after crushing vast pro-democracy demonstrations.
When Suu Kyi’s party won a general election by a landslide on May 27, 1990, Junta leaders refused to hand over power, insisting the country first needed a new constitution. The military has continued to rule while persecuting members of the pro-democracy movement.