Friday, 18 June 2010

Myanmar: UN rights expert urges release of Aung San Suu Kyi

Aung San Suu Kyi

17 June 2010 – A United Nations independent human rights expert today urged authorities in Myanmar to immediately release the Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and other prisoners of conscience, saying this will help create the conditions for inclusive elections in the Asian nation.

The UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights Situation in Myanmar, Tomás Ojea Quintana, said in a statement that the country should “heed the call” of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, which recently reiterated earlier calls for Ms. Suu Kyi’s release.

“The Working Group has found that the continuous deprivation of Aung San Suu Kyi’s liberty is arbitrary,” he said in the statement, issued in Geneva.

Ms. Suu Kyi, who will turn 65 on Saturday, is the leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD). She has been under house arrest for much of the past two decades.

The Working Group has requested that the Government conforms to the norms and principles set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which forbids arbitrary arrest, closed-court hearings and the suppression of free speech and assembly.

In today’s statement, Mr. Quintana – who serves in an unpaid, independent capacity and reports to the UN Human Rights Council – called on the Government to release all other prisoners of conscience “to create the conditions for an inclusive election process and to demonstrate that it intends to take a more serious and sincere approach to its international obligations to uphold human rights.”

Myanmar is expected to hold polls in October, the first to be held in the country in two decades, as part of a Government-designed timetable towards greater democratization.

Earlier this year, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for the elections to be “fair, transparent and credible” in which all citizens – including Ms. Suu Kyi – can take part freely.

The Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Myanmar, his Chef de Cabinet Vijay Nambiar, met last week with officials from India, Singapore and China to discuss the issue.

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