Suu Kyi release likely


  • ASEAN+
  • Friday, 16 Apr 2004

CANBERRA: Myanmar's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is likely to be released from house arrest in time to join constitutional talks with the military government next month, a top Asian diplomat said yesterday.  

Asean secretary-general Ong Keng Yong said the release this week of two senior officials of her party, U Lwin and Aung Shwe, showed the situation was “looking up a little bit”. 

The National League for Democracy (NLD) officials were set free on Tuesday after nearly a year under house arrest following a crackdown on the opposition by the ruling generals last May. 

Ong said the Myanmar Government had indicated to Asean that its “road map to democracy” involved Suu Kyi and the NLD participating in a conference set for May 17 to draft a new constitution. “I think it will happen because they are quite sincere about national reconciliation and working in their own way to bring about that desired outcome,” Ong said in an interview during a visit to mark 30 years of Australia and Asean relations. 

“It's just we on our side do not know the time schedule.” 

Ong said he doubted Suu Kyi, 58, would be released until after New Year celebrations this week in Myanmar, under military rule since 1962. 

“If she came out now, the whole festival would be turned into a celebratory kind of thing, into a very politicised atmosphere,” said Ong, a former Singaporean diplomat who began his five-year term as head of Asean in January 2002. 

But Ong said Suu Kyi must be prepared to work with the generals on the National Convention that first met in 1993. He said she had signalled to UN special envoy Razali Ismail last month that she was ready to do this. 

Fourteen Nobel Literature Laureates, including V.S. Naipaul and Gunther Grass, have joined Vaclav Havel, former president of the Czech Republic, in calling for the release of Suu Kyi and other writers jailed in Myanmar. 

In a letter delivered to Myanmar embassies in Bangkok, Berlin, London, New Delhi, Tokyo, Washington D.C. and other cities worldwide, the laureates said they were profoundly disturbed by the gross suppression of the democracy movement and the denial of freedom of expression in Myanmar. 

The appeal said that if writers, journalists and other citizens cannot discuss the future of their country without fear, all announcements of political reform lack credibility. –Agencies  

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