UN rights chief heralds Suu Kyi's release

13th November 2010, Comments 0 comments

The UN human rights chief welcomed Saturday the Myanmar authorities' release of opposition icon Aung San Suu Kyi and called for the freeing of the country's hundreds of other political prisoners.

"This is a positive signal that the authorities in Myanmar are willing to move forward with the serious challenge of democratic transition, and the need for national reconciliation," Navi Pillay said in a statement.

"Clearly, Aung San Suu Kyi can make a major contribution to this process," she said.

Suu Kyi, a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and a symbol of the fight for democracy in Myanmar, was freed on Saturday after more than seven consecutive years of house arrest.

She has spent most of the past two decades under house arrest because of her political beliefs.

Pillay said it was important that Suu Kyi's release was unconditional.

"Her long detention and deprivation of rights remain a serious violation of human rights on the part of the government of Myanmar," she added.

The commissioner also urged Myanmar's ruling junta to "now release the other 2,200 political prisoners as a clear sign that the new government intends to respect human rights and forge a new future for the country."

She said she was "extremely disappointed" that Suu Kyi was not released before the November 7 elections. Her party boycotted the poll, which was described as a sham, saying the rules were unfair.

© 2010 AFP

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