Asian powers hold the key to freeing Aung San Suu Kyi

24th May 2009, Comments 0 comments

Asian powers hold the key to persuading Myanmar's ruling junta to release opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, France's human rights minister said Sunday ahead of key meetings in Asia this week.

PARIS - Asian powers hold the key to persuading Myanmar's ruling junta to release opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, France's human rights minister said Sunday ahead of key meetings in Asia this week.

France and Europe have done everything that they can and it is now up to Asian governments to turn up the pressure on Yangon, said Rama Yade who is to meet with ministers from Myanmar's neighbours in Vietnam and Cambodia.

"It is obvious that the key is in Asia," Yade told TV5 Monde in an interview. "I fundamentally believe that our Asian partners can incite the junta to evolve."

Yade will represent France at the ASEM (Asia-Europe) ministerial meeting on Thursday in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi and the European Union meeting with the Association of South East Asian Nations Saturday in the Cambodian capital Phnom Pen.

The junior minister said she has asked to meet with Myanmar's foreign minister to discuss the plight of Aung San Suu Kyi, who went on trial this month for violating the terms of her house arrest.

"I will meet various Asian authorities who are the only ones capable of influencing the junta because we have done everything we can," said Yade.

EU nations have condemned the 63-year-old opposition leader's arrest and are considering tighter sanctions against the regime, but Myanmar's partners in ASEAN have not gone beyond expressing concern over the situation.

Aung San Suu Kyi pleaded innocent Friday at the court in Yangon's Insein prison to the charges levelled against her after an American man swam to her lakeside home.

Yade described her arrest as a "pretext to throw her in prison and stage a mock trial" and accused the junta of seeking to exclude her from elections next year.

"If we were to lose her, it would be on our conscience," warned the minister.

The junta, headed by reclusive Senior General Than Shwe, has kept Aung San Suu Kyi in detention for a total of 13 years since 1990, when it refused to recognise her party's landslide victory in Myanmar's last elections.


AFP / Expatica

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