Fri 30 Nov 2007
Filed under: International,News
Burma’s ruling military junta must release detained democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi if it is serious about making the democratic reforms demanded by the international community, a UN envoy said Friday.
The envoy, Ibrahim Gambari, made the comments at the end of a two-day visit to Cambodia, shortly after Burmese Prime Minister Gen Thein Sein arrived in the country. The two did not cross paths and officials said the timing of the visits was coincidental.
UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari has criticized the Burmese junta’s continued arrest of dissidents following a crackdown on anti-government protests, saying further repression undermined national reconciliation.
Gambari also said he will return to Burma next month on his third mission to nudge the junta toward reconciliation talks with the opposition since the government’s September crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators.
The United Nations has repeatedly called for the release of Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate under detention for 12 of the past 18 years, and for the junta to hold reconciliation talks with her opposition party.
“Now we are saying very clearly that if Aung San Suu Kyi is to become part of the solution and a partner in dialogue, then it is very essential that she should be released from detention,” Gambari told reporters.
He urged the junta to halt its ongoing arrests of people who participated in the September protests.
“Any further arrests of people will run counter to the spirit of national reconciliation and … to the efforts to promote dialogue between the opposition and the government,” he said.
Amnesty International says several dissidents and Buddhist monks were arrested this month, despite assurances from the junta that arrests have stopped.
Burma sparked global outrage in September when the junta crushed protests led by Buddhist monks, killing at least 15 people. Nearly 3,000 were arrested, although the military insists most have been released.
Gambari’s visit is part of a tour through Southeast Asia to encourage Burma’s neighbors to play a bigger role in resolving the crisis.
Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said Friday that his country supports the “steps taken by Myanmar [Burma] in cooperation with the United Nations to seek reconciliation and democracy in Myanmar.”
Cambodia has ruled out supporting sanctions against the junta.
“We should not talk about sanctions, but we’d better talk about how to take the momentum forward and prevent the situation from sliding backward,” Hor Namhong said earlier.
Gambari, who met with Hor Namhong on Thursday, said the two agreed the “best way to avoid sanctions or more sanctions is actually more cooperation by the government of Myanmar with the United Nations, not less.”
The UN envoy visited Vietnam earlier this week and is to travel to Laos after leaving Cambodia.