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Myanmar: Annan, UN human rights officials hail release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi

Myanmar: Annan, UN human rights officials hail release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and UN human rights officials today welcomed the release by the Government of Myanmar of democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi from 19 months of de facto house arrest.

Calling today's move a major development in Myanmar's national reconciliation process, a UN spokesman said that Mr. Annan "warmly welcomes the restoration of freedom of movement" for Ms. Suu Kyi, the General Secretary of the National League for Democracy (NLD).

Ms. Suu Kyi's release comes shortly after the Secretary-General's Special Envoy, Razali Ismail, concluded his seventh mission to Myanmar on 26 April and "provides fresh momentum to the 19-month-old confidence building and national reconciliation process between the Government and NLD," the UN statement said.

"The Secretary-General extends his best wishes to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who will resume her normal political activities as the leader of a lawful party," the statement added. "He remains ready to assist in the efforts of the Government and the NLD to find ways to push ahead the process of national reconciliation and democratization, acceptable to all parties in Myanmar."

Meanwhile, Mary Robinson, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Paulo Pinheiro, the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on the situation in Myanmar, issued a joint statement commending the Government for taking "this important step towards advancing the political dialogue and the process of national reconciliation."

The two officials said they sincerely hoped that Ms. Suu Kyi would be able to resume fully her normal activities as a leader of a legal political party and that her release would be followed by the discharge of all other political prisoners in Myanmar.

They also paid tribute to the "outstanding efforts" of the Secretary-General and his Special Envoy that have contributed to the progress of confidence-building talks.

"The release of Aung San Suu Kyi attests that principled engagement with the Government of Myanmar has been effective in supporting the best interests of the Myanmar people and the promotion and protection of their human rights," the statement said. "Both the High Commissioner and the Special Rapporteur are ready to discuss with the Government of Myanmar possible cooperation endeavours that would enhance the promotion and protection of human rights in Myanmar."