By LALIT K JHA
WASHINGTON — US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says she will raise the imprisonment of Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi with the UN, Burma’s partners within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean)—and even China.
Describing the removal of Suu Kyi from her home to Rangoon’s infamous Insein Prison as unlawful and “a pretext to place further unjustified restrictions on her,” Clinton told a press conference in Washington on Thursday that she would also raise the democracy icon’s plight with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Clinton was speaking after meeting visiting Malaysian Foreign Minister YB Datuk Anifah bin Haji Aman, who promised to raise the matter with the Asean Secretariat and also seek a solution through the Asean+3 group, which includes China.
Clinton said: “We are reaching out to our Asean partners like Malaysia. I hope to be speaking myself to the [UN] Secretary-General. We think that this does rise to the level of the kind of regional statements of concern that we would ask for.
“We will also raise this with other nations like China and see if we can’t, on a humanitarian basis, seek relief for Aung San Suu Kyi from this latest effort to intimidate and perhaps even incarcerate her.”
The Malaysian Foreign Minister said the arrest of Suu Kyi made it all the more important not to isolate Burma. “We do not want to leave Myanmar in isolation,” he said.
“We will use the good office of the Asean Secretariat to immediately engage in and to finding solutions to this matter, and if it is possible, this—the Asean+3, which includes China—we would also be, if it’s necessary to engage in, to seek their views and assistance in trying to solve the problem.”
Clinton said she was deeply troubled by the decision by the Burmese regime to charge Suu Kyi with a baseless crime. “It comes just before the six-year anniversary of her house arrest, and it is not in keeping with the rule of law, the Asean charter, or efforts to promote national reconciliation and progress in Burma.
“We oppose the regime’s efforts to use this incident as a pretext to place further unjustified restrictions on her, and therefore we call on the Burmese authorities to release her immediately and unconditionally, along with her doctor and the more than 2,100 political prisoners currently being held.”