Saturday, May 16, 2009

Top US senators warn Myanmar over Aung San Suu Kyi

Fri May 15, 10:53 am ET

Top US senators warn Myanmar over Aung San Suu Kyi AFP/File – US Senator John Kerry, seen here on May 05, 2009, and Republican Senator Richard Lugar, have urged Myanmar …

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Two top US senators urged Myanmar to free pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi and urged "reform-minded" members of its ruling junta to step forward to help forge new ties with the United States.

"Now is the time for reform-minded leaders within the military junta to step forward and be heard," said Democratic Senator John Kerry and Republican Senator Richard Lugar, the top Senate Foreign Relations Committee members.

"Releasing Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners would signal the start of a constructive dialogue with the United States," they said in a joint statement.

Myanmar's military rulers were facing intense international pressure to reverse course after the Nobel Peace laureate, 63, was imprisoned ahead of a new trial next week for breaching the terms of her house arrest.

"The Obama Administration and Congress are reviewing America?s policy toward Burma. At this critical time, some in the junta are trying to leverage the recent alleged unauthorized entry into Aung San Suu Kyi?s compound to extend her detention," said Kerry and Lugar.

The ruling military junta took Aung San Suu Kyi from her home on Thursday to Yangon's notorious Insein prison, where she was charged over a bizarre incident in which an American man swam to her lakeside residence.

There was no comment from Myanmar's secretive regime, which has kept the frail opposition leader in detention for most of the last 19 years and now looks set to do so past controversial elections that are due next year.

"This action sends precisely the wrong message to the citizens of Burma, the people of Southeast Asia, and all those in the global community who seek for the Burmese people the opportunity to live in a country where universal human rights are respected, not trampled," said Kerry and Lugar.

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