Military junta supporters yesterday prevented a prayer vigil in Yangon in favour of Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Some 200 people had in fact gathered in Myanmar’s former capital to commemorate the 17th anniversary since the electoral victory of Ms Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy (NLD). This came after the military regime on Friday renewed the order that has kept the Nobel Prize laureate under house arrest despite international protest. For China instead, the issue is an internal Myanmar matter.
Yesterday’s rally, which went unhindered in front of the NLD’s headquarters, was later blocked by police and junta supporters throwing insults and threatening people as they tried to peacefully march to the famed Shwedagon Pagoda, where they had planned to pray for the opposition leader’s release.
In 1990 the NLD won the elections but Myanmar’s military rulers did not recognise the results. Instead Ms Suu Kyi has spent 11 of the past 18 years detained as a political prisoner.
The junta’s decision to renew Ms Suu Kyi’s detention orders has raised international criticism. Demands for her release have in fact increased over time.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon â€œstrongly believes that the sooner restrictions on Aung San Suu Kyi and other political figures are lifted, the sooner Myanmar will be able to move toward inclusive national reconciliation, the restoration of democracy and full respect for human rights,â€ his spokeswoman said.
Last week the members of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) broke the organisation’s traditional stance of non-interference and called on the military junta to free Ms Suu Kyi.
Meanwhile at the United Nations Security Council a US-sponsored resolution tabled in January to end repression in Myanmar remains blocked by Russia and China.
China is especially interested in Myanmar’s isolation; Chinese companies have in fact invested in local mining, oil and gas resources.
China’s Foreign Ministry recently stated that Ms Suu Kyi’s fate was an internal Myanmar matter.