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Indonesian foreign minister urges Myanmar not to renew Suu Kyi’s house arrest

The Associated Press

Published: May 27, 2008

MANILA, Philippines: Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda urged Myanmar’s junta Tuesday to release detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi amid the good will the world has shown in helping the cyclone-devastated nation.

Wirayuda said, however, he was not optimistic that the Nobel Peace Prize laureate would regain her freedom soon, given the junta’s past rejection of such calls from the international community.

Suu Kyi’s five-year house arrest expires Wednesday, Nyan Win, spokesman for her National League of Democracy, said in Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon. The junta was expected to decide on her fate Tuesday.

“I hope for the best but to be frank I’m not optimistic,” Wirayuda told The Associated Press during a two-day visit to Manila.

Freeing Suu Kyi would be a “positive gesture to the good will of the international community,” which has helped the junta and Myanmar’s people deal with the massive devastation and loss of life wrought by the recent Cyclone Nargis, he said.

Suu Kyi’s detention has been at the center of friction between the secretive junta and many countries around the world, including Myanmar’s fellow member countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

ASEAN, a 10-country political and trade bloc, has constantly nudged Myanmar to rapidly move toward democracy and to free political prisoners including Suu Kyi — a futile call that has often dominated the group’s annual meetings.

Despite a bedrock policy of noninterference in each other’s domestic affairs, some ASEAN members — including Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines — have increasingly voiced frustration over Myanmar’s intransigence.

Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo slammed Myanmar at a summit of ASEAN leaders in Singapore last November, warning that Filipino legislators could find it difficult to ratify the bloc’s landmark charter if the junta will not restore democracy and release Suu Kyi.

Arroyo and other ASEAN leaders adopted the charter, which aims to transform the group into an EU-style bloc, at that summit. The pact will collapse if one country fails to ratify it.

ASEAN’s members are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. It admitted Myanmar in 1997 despite strong opposition from Western nations.

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

May 27, 2008 at 7:22 am

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