Thu 31 May 2007
Filed under: International,News
Washington: A UN panel has found that Myanmar’s democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi is being detained in violation of international law and called for her immediate freedom, according to the ruling released by her family’s US lawyer Thursday.
“The deprivation of liberty of Ms Aung San Suu Kyi is arbitrary” and in contravention of three provisions of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, said the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.
The independent UN tribunal, whose membership comprises experts from Algeria, Iran, Hungary, Paraguay, and Spain, informed Myanmar’s military junta of the ruling three weeks ago before it was relayed to attorney Jared Genser, who is also president of US rights group Freedom Now.
“It is a strongly-worded ruling,” he told AFP.
“The Working Group believes that under the circumstances the adequate remedy would be the immediate release of Ms Aung San Suu Kyi.”
Genser said, “We are gratified the UN has reaffirmed that Aung San Suu Kyi is being held in violation of international law.”
But he pointed out that the judgment was about much more than the detention of “one courageous woman,” and that her detention “is a symbol of the ongoing oppression of the Burmese people.”
“The real question is how long would Burma’s bold-face defiance of the United Nations, ASEAN, EU, and so many others be tolerated?” he said.
The UN panel had given similar rulings thrice previously with respect to prior terms of her house arrest by the military government of Myanmar — also called Burma.
The latest ruling, Genser said, was significant because the UN working group found that the junta’s allegations that Aung San Suu Kyi was trying to overthrow the government were “completely unsubstantiated.”
Previously, the junta had argued that she was being held for her own safety later it claimed that she was a threat to the national security of the country, he said.
The ruling comes on the heels of the extension of her house arrest by the Yangon junta last week and widespread international calls for her release from the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the European Union.
In addition, earlier this month, a group of 59 former presidents and prime ministers also sought her release in a letter to the junta chief General Than Shwe.
The letter was organized by former Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevick and included signatures from such figures as former Czech president Vaclav Havel, ex-Polish leader Lech Walesa and former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung.
The junta last Friday extended the detention of the 61-year-old democracy campaigner and Nobel peace laureate by another year.
Her National League for Democracy won elections in Myanmar in 1990 by a landslide but was never allowed to take power. In the 17 years since then, Suu Kyi has spent most of the time under house arrest at her Yangon home.
In a joint declaration, the Asia-Europe meeting of foreign ministers called for “the early lifting of restrictions placed on political parties and the early release of those under detention, including Aung San Suu Kyi.”
It also deplored “the lack of tangible progress in the declared transition towards a civilian and democratic government” in military-run Myanmar.