Myanmar has told its neighbors that democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi may be freed after the Nov. 7 elections, according to a source at a summit where the junta is under fire over the discredited poll.
Myanmar Foreign Minister Nyan Win tackled the divisive issue with his regional counterparts during ASEAN talks in Hanoi on Wednesday.
“He said they will release Aung San Suu Kyi maybe after the elections,” said a foreign ministry official from one of the ASEAN delegations, who attended the dinner meeting.
However, Nyan Win “did not say specifically” when Suu Kyi — who has been in detention for 15 of the last 21 years — would be freed from house arrest, the source said.
Authorities in Myanmar have previously said that the former Nobel peace laureate would be released when her current term of house arrest expires on Nov. 13, but the military state has made no official confirmation.
Western governments as well as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon — who holds talks today with ASEAN leaders — have repeatedly said the vote will not be credible unless Suu Kyi and other opponents are set free.
Ban has expressed growing “frustration” with the Myanmar junta in recent weeks and called on its neighbors to be more aggressive with their pariah neighbor or risk tarnishing their own democratic credentials.
Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, who said on Wednesday that he believed it was not too late to fix the “credibility deficit” undermining the elections, indicated the region was anticipating an imminent release.
“Our understanding is that once the present term of her sentence has expired, once she has served her sentence, then that would be it and that notion was not disputed,” he said yesterday.
“That was the understanding that we presented [to Nyan Win] and we did not hear any disputing of that understanding,” he said.
Neither Suu Kyi nor her National League for Democracy (NLD) party will participate in the vote, the country’s first in two decades.
The junta, humiliated by its crashing defeat to the NLD in the 1990 polls, has prolonged Suu Kyi’s confinement almost continuously ever since.
Uncertainty over whether the military regime will indeed release the 65-year-old, known reverently among Myanmar’s people as “The Lady,” will remain until the moment she appears in public.
Suu Kyi’s current spell of detention stems from her imprisonment in May last year — just days before a previous period of house arrest came to an end — due to a bizarre incident in which a US citizen swam to her lakeside home.
She was initially given three years in jail and hard labor but returned to her crumbling family home in August last year after her sentence was commuted to one-and-a-half years’ house arrest by junta leader Than Shwe.
Suu Kyi’s lawyer Nyan Win has said the period of detention started with her imprisonment on May 14 and that authorities would have to release her in November because “there is no law to extend her house arrest.”
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
ACADEMIC FREEDOM: One professor told her students to submit anonymized papers and not to record any online classes. Some US schools have announced similar steps Students at Oxford University specializing in the study of China are being asked to submit some papers anonymously to protect them from the possibility of retribution under the sweeping new security law introduced three months ago in Hong Kong. The anonymity ruling is to be applied in classes, and group tutorials are to be replaced by one-to-ones. Students are also to be warned that it will be viewed as a disciplinary offence if they tape classes or share them with outside groups. The Hong Kong National Security Law was imposed on June 30 by Beijing after more than a year of pro-democracy
Japan’s government yesterday urged people to seek help if they were struggling to cope, following Sunday’s death of the popular actress and Miss Sherlock star Yuko Takeuchi, 40. News of her death shocked the nation and follows other recent cases of Japanese celebrities taking their lives, with figures showing a recent rise in suicides. Takeuchi was a household name in Japan and had given birth to her second child in January. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato did not mention a particular case, but said that some people were struggling to cope during the COVID-19 pandemic. “There has been an uptick in the number
China on Thursday lashed out at the US at a high-level UN meeting over its criticism on the COVID-19 pandemic, with its envoy declaring, “Enough is enough.” Two days after US President Donald Trump used his annual address to the General Assembly to attack China’s record, US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft, also took an outraged tone — after which her Chinese counterpart showed palpable anger. “I must say, enough is enough. You have created enough troubles for the world already,” Chinese Ambassador to the UN Zhang Jun (張軍) told a Security Council meeting on global governance attended through videoconference