United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today vowed to continue working for the release of Myanmar democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, whose house arrest the authorities have extended.
“Despite this setback, the international community cannot abandon the search for improvements in the difficult situation in Myanmar,” Mr. Annan said in a statement issued by his spokesman, just four days after he appealed directly to the head of State, Senior General Than Shwe, to release Ms. Suu Kyi, who has been under house arrest for 10 of the past 16 years. The authorities announced the extension a day after that.
“He believes Myanmar’s leadership has missed a significant opportunity to confirm, through concrete actions, its expressed commitment to move toward true national reconciliation and all-inclusive democracy, as well as improved relations with the international community,” the statement added.
It said Mr. Annan would continue not only to make every effort to secure the release of Ms. Suu Kyi and other political detainees, but also to urge the authorities to take other steps they discussed with Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari during his recent visit to the country.
These include improved safety and access for humanitarian assistance, restraint in military operations that have affected civilians, and - ultimately - the possibility of internal dialogue that could lead to national reconciliation.
Speaking to reporters himself today, Mr. Annan said the UN would continue to work with the Association of Southeast Asian countries (ASEAN) and with Malaysia, which holds the Presidency of ASEAN and the Non Aligned Movement (NAM) “and we hope that other governments with influence will bring pressure to bear.”
Last week Mr. Annan called Mr. Gambari’s visit, the first high-level contact in more than two years, a “welcome development.”
“Obviously, lines of communication have now been opened with Yangon following Mr. Gambari’s visit and we hope to exploit those lines to move the process forward,” spokesman Stephane Dujarric said told reporters today. “From where we stand, we can’t give up and we have to keep trying.”