No Hope for Suu Kyi from Ban’s Trip: NLD Leader
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is scheduled to visit Burma on Friday and Saturday, and there’s little hope for the release of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi from the trip, said a prominent Burmese opposition leader.
Ban plans to focus on three issues: the release of Suu Kyi and other political prisoners; the resumption of dialogue between the junta and opposition as a necessary part of national reconciliation process; and to create a condition conducive to credible elections in 2010, according to a UN press briefing on Monday.
Commenting on the trip, Win Tin, a prominent leader of the main opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) said that the international community has achieved little in the way of real progress toward national reconciliation.
“Therefore, I do not expect Daw Aung San Suu Kyi would be released during or after Ban Ki-moon’s trip,” he said. “But it’s because the junta has failed to response to the international calls.”
Win Tin, who spent 19 years as a political prisoner, told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday that he welcomed Ban’s trip.
“I agree with Mr Ban Ki-moon’s agenda: release of political prisoners and dialogue for national reconciliation. But I want to point out that Burma’s problem now is about its constitution rather than the election,” Win Tin said.
“So we need to review this unjust constitution first and then talk about the election. That will be more reasonable for the country’s democracy process,” he said. The junta has scheduled elections in 2010 under a constitution which was approved by a referendum in May 2008. The constitution reserves 25 percent of the seats in the upper and lower house of parliament for the military. The referendum was neither free or nor fair, analysts say.
Ban Ki-moon’s last visit to the military-ruled country was in May 2008 following the Cyclone Nargis disaster in the Irrawaddy delta, during which he met the leader of the junta, Snr-Gen Than Shwe.
Although Ban’s trip is confirmed, a UN spokesperson indicated there was no agreement that he would meet with Suu Kyi, even though he requested to meet with the pro-democracy leader.
Suu Kyi is on trial charged with violating the terms of her house arrest, in what observers say is a trumped-up charge designed to remove her from active political life during the 2010 election. She was schedule to be released last month.
“Despite the NLD’s protestations and the growing international pressure, there was never any real likelihood of Aung San Suu Kyi being freed ahead of the planned election in 2010,” noted a London-based think-tank, The Economist Intelligence Unit, in its June report on Burma.
“The last time she was released, in May 2002, the junta clearly miscalculated the extent to which she had remained a popular and influential figure,” said the report.