By LALIT K JHA
WASHINGTON — Nine Nobel Peace prize recipients on Monday called the trial of Aung San Suu Kyi a “mockery” and urged UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to discuss the issue with members of the Security Council as soon as possible.
“We are outraged by the deplorable actions of the military junta against Suu Kyi and strongly encourage challenging this obvious harassment of our fellow Nobel laureate,” the nine Nobel Peace Prize recipients wrote in a letter to the secretary-general.
The signatories to the letter are President Oscar Arias of Costa Rica, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Jody Williams, Shirin Ebadi, Rigoberta Menchu Tum, Adolfo Perez Esquivel, Wangari Mathaai, Mairead Corrigan Maguire and Betty Williams.
Referring to the trial, the nine Noble laureates said: “The trial is a mockery. There is no judicial system in Burma. It is clear that this is an excuse by the military junta to add trumped-up charges at a time when Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s unlawful detention was scheduled to end May 27, 2009.”
The Noble laureates said they are extremely concerned about the health of Suu Kyi. “Insein prison is infamous for its inhumane and treacherous conditions, where prisoners endure mental and physical torture,” the letter said.
Calling for immediate release of the popular Burmese leader, they said: “We urge you to discuss this matter with the United Nations Security Council, to do so as expeditiously as possible.” They also reiterated their call to the international community to implement arms embargoes against the regime.
There was no immediate response from the office of the secretary-general. Last week, the Club of Madrid – representing 72 former presidents and prime ministers – urged Ban to look into the possibility of traveling to Burma to talk with the junta leaders seeking her release.
Another statement signed by world celebrities urged all countries and the UN to speak in one voice and demand the Burmese military regime free Aung San Suu Kyi.
In October 2007, the UN Security Council in a presidential statement urged the Burmese military junta to release all political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi.
The United States on Monday also urged the Burmese junta to free the popular Burmese leader immediately and unconditionally along with other political prisoners.
“We are deeply disturbed by the actions of the Burmese government and reiterate that the charges that the regime is bringing against Aung San Suu Kyi are unjustified,” State Department spokesman, Ian Kelly, told reporters at a daily press briefing.
“We call on the regime to end its incarceration of Aung San Suu Kyi and to release her immediately and unconditionally along with the more than 2,100 other political prisoners that the regime holds,” he said.
Expressing concern over the charges imposed against Suu Kyi, the State Department spokesman said: “These charges are being used as a pretext to either extend her house arrest, or even more disturbingly perhaps, justify a prison sentence.”
Acknowledging the regime is usually not willing to listen, Kelly said: “How do we get them to do the right thing? I think our approach is the best one, and that’s to approach it from a multilateral perspective to get as much leverage as we can. But yes, we’re frustrated, absolutely. “
Kelly said an American consular officer was present in the courtroom for the proceedings against Aung San Suu Kyi and American citizen, John Yettaw. “He was there to observe the hearing. Yettaw faces charges relating to immigration, trespassing into a restricted zone, and violating a law that protects the state from those desiring to cause subversive acts,” he said.
Meanwhile, speaking on the Senate floor, Sen Mitch McConnell applauded the decision of the US President Barack Obama to extend US sanctions on the military regime by one more year.
“The government of Burma should be aware that its actions are highly troubling to democracies the world over. This is reflected not only in the administration’s new executive order but also in the strong support the Burmese people enjoy in the US Senate,” the senator said.
In another statement, Canada’s main opposition Liberal Party condemned the charges brought against Suu Kyi as part of the junta's efforts to extend her unjust detention.
“We call for her immediate release and the release of all political prisoners in Burma. We further call on the Government of Canada to work with the international community to strengthen its sanctions of the Burmese junta and press for her release,” the Liberal Party said in a statement.