YANGON: Detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is in good spirits and top military leaders have given assurances she will be freed as soon as possible, United Nations envoy Tan Sri Razali Ismail said yesterday.
International concern has intensified over the health and whereabouts of the Nobel peace prize winner since violence erupted on May 30 as she was touring a provincial town in the north. She has been in detention since then.
Razali met Suu Kyi for an hour at the junta's headquarters here at the end of a four-day mission to persuade the military to free her.
“I have been given clear assurances by both Secretary One (the junta's leader, Khin Nyun) and (army chief Deputy Senior General) Maung Aye that they will lift the protective custody on her as soon as possible,” he said in Singapore hours later.
Speaking earlier to reporters at Yangon airport, Razali said Suu Kyi had no injuries.
“She's well. She's in very strong spirits. It's the person that I've always known,” the Malaysian diplomat said.
Suu Kyi gave Razali no details on casualties from clashes late last month in which her supporters said that up to 75 people died. The military says four were killed in the violence between her supporters and pro-government groups.
“She did not see it all. She was in the front car,” he said.
Suu Kyi has spent much of the past 14 years under house arrest and her latest detention has brought widespread international condemnation of Myanmar's military rulers.
“The government will have to get her out of protective custody.
“That also applies to the others,” Razali said, referring to leaders of Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy who were also detained.
He also said the stalled dialogue between the government and opposition, which he brokered three years ago, needed to get back on track.
“I believe this incident has woken up a lot of people in Myanmar itself as to the necessity of moving this process very quickly,” he said, adding that he would return to Myanmar at any time if invited by the government.
Diplomatic pressure has mounted on the Myanmar government in recent days, with the United States, Britain and the European Union saying they were considering more trade and investment sanctions because of Suu Kyi's treatment.
Since May 30, the junta has kept Suu Kyi at undisclosed locations.
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan called for Suu Kyi's immediate release and urged the government to resume dialogue on national reconciliation, a statement from Annan's spokesman said.
Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad also called for Suu Kyi's immediate release and said her detention might affect the 10-member Asean, to which Myanmar belongs.
After her release from a spell of house arrests in May last year, Suu Kyi made a series of trips to the provinces to meet party workers and supporters.
Drawing big, enthusiastic crowds and turning up the pressure on the military to begin talks on a transition to democracy, her trips attracted an increasingly hostile response from backers of the military government.
Dissidents in exile had said members of a pro-government group, which had been following Suu Kyi's convoy in four trucks, beat to death as many as 75 members of her entourage and villagers with bamboo and iron bars in the May 30 violence.
They said Suu Kyi received head and shoulder injuries although her car sped off soon after the violence erupted.
The NLD swept to a landslide election victory in 1990 but was never allowed into office by the military, which has ruled Myanmar in various guises since a coup in 1962. – Reuters
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