07/03/2009, 00.00
MYANMAR – UNITED NATIONS
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Ban Ki-moon in Myanmar to seek Aung San Suu Kyi’s release

The United Nations secretary general is set to meet the military regime’s strongman to ask for the release of more than 2,000 political prisoners as well as free and fair elections. He might meet opposition and Nobel Peace Prize winner Suu Kyi whose trial has been postponed to 10 July.

Yangon (AsiaNews/Agencies) – United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has arrived in Yangon (Myanmar) on a two-day official visit. He will meet the top leaders of the ruling military junta as well as opposition leaders. In the meantime in a Insein Prison courtroom judges at the trial of Aung San Suu Kyi have adjourned the next hearing until 10 July.

Before he left for Myanmar, Ban Ki-moon said he wanted to meet Ms Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been in prison since 14 May charged with violating the terms of her house arrest.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate is accused of giving shelter to an American, John Yettaw, and could get up to five years in prison.

However, her arrest appears to be a pretext to prevent the leader of the main opposition party, the National League for Democracy, to run in 2010 elections.

Ban Ki-moon is scheduled to meet General Than Shwe today, the military regime’s strongman, in Naypyidaw, the former Burma’s administrative capital.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon plans to ask General Shwe to release all 2,100 political prisoners, including opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, as well as resume the dialogue between the military government and its opposition; and create the right conditions for credible elections next year.

The UN secretary general will also meet with “representatives of all registered political parties” as well as “old armed groups” representing various ethnic minorities.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said that Myanmar has a long record of human rights violations under a harsh military dictatorship which has arrested opponents, monks and political dissidents, crushing any sign of unrest.

“Time and again, the UN has politely requested Aung San Suu Kyi's release, but her 'release' back to house arrest would be a huge failure," said HRW Executive Director Kenneth Roth. 

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