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If Wishes Were Horses …

July 21, 2008

Myanmar hints at Suu Kyi release

Myanmar’s military government has hinted that it could free Aung San Suu Kyi, the country’s detained opposition leader, within six months.

The suggestion, reportedly made by Myanmar’s foreign minister, Nyan Win, came as members of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (Asean) issued a strong rebuke expressing their “deep disappointment” at Aung San Suu Kyi’s continued house arrest.

Opening a four-day annual security summit in Singapore, the joint statement also urged Myanmar’s rulers to engage in a “meaningful dialogue with all political groups and work toward a peaceful transition to democracy in the near future”.

The 10-nation Asean group includes Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, and it is rare for the organisation to take such a strong stance on a member state’s internal affairs.

According to George Yeo, Singapore’s foreign minister, Nyan Win told him during a pre-summit dinner on Sunday that under Myanmar law a political detainee can be held for a maximum period of only six years.

“He told me that the six-year limit will come up in about half a year’s time,” Yeo told reporters on Sunday.

Asked whether that meant she could be freed, he said: “I am just repeating to you what he told me and I think that is not an inaccurate inference.”

House arrest extended

In May, Myanmar’s ruling military announced it was extending Aung San Suu Kyi’s house arrest for another 12 months.

It is not clear how the foreign minister’s suggestion that she could be freed affects that decision.

Aung San Suu Kyi has been held under house arrest or in Yangon’s notorious Insein jail for most of the past 18 years.

Her party, the National League for Democracy, won a landslide victory in national elections held in 1990, but it was never allowed to take office.

ASEAN pushes Burma for Suu Kyi’s release

A meeting of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Singapore is pushing Burma’s military junta to release detained pro-democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.

This time there may be hope, Cyclone Nargis may have broken the back of the Junta. Criticism from the world community for the shameful response by Burma’s “rulers” has united humanitarian agencies. One big voice continues to demand accountability. This disaster has confirmed the Junta is in power for themselves, not their people. The ASEAN has enough muscle to make her release possible … they just need to “stay the course”. Suu Kyi is Burma’s Nelson Mandela. The world needs her back … her country needs her back.  If Wishes were horses, then beggars would ride.

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