Burma: UN’s Ban Ki-moon Denied Visit With Suu Kyi
July 7, 2009, 9:55 pm
Filed under: Aung San Suu Kyi, News Articles

(Source: UNPO)

Tuesday, 07 July 2009

Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was denied an audience with the democratic leader of Burma, Aung San Suu Kyi, during his visit to the country.

Below is an article published by ABC Radio Australia:

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says he is deeply disappointed that he was denied access to jailed pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, during a two-day visit to Burma.

Mr Ban left Rangoon, saying military ruler Than Shwe had missed an opportunity to show his commitment to democratic reform, before next year’s general elections.

Presenter: Sen Lam
Speakers: Maureen Aung Thwin, head of the Burma Project at the Open Society Institute

THWIN: The regime never intended to give him access to Aung San Suu Kyi. They probably wanted him to come there and sort of give obeisance, like he did, go all the way up to Naypyidaw, and they kept him waiting and then they said, ‘No, you can’t see her’. So they never were going to and I’m just shocked that he actually thought that he could get that permission and went all the way without knowing what the outcome was.

LAM: Why do you think Ban Ki-moon embarked on the trip, given that even prior to the visit, he had been warned by critics that it would achieve nothing, except for as you say paying obeisance to the generals?

THWIN: I frankly don’t know, because he went last year [2008] and even last year, before he went, I thought the Secretary General, the world’s top diplomat, would surely would not go to a country especially a regime like that without knowing having an idea of the outcome, of what he would achieve, but he went. Of course he said that he achieved that giving the visas to the aid people from the cyclone, so he could sort of spin it or say that. I am not convinced of that either. But this time, it was quite even more upsetting, because there was no indication that he was going to achieve anything.

LAM: Well, you mentioned the fact that he went to see General Than Shwe at Naypyidaw, what do you make of the observation that General Than Shwe is now almost ruling like a de facto king, because he’s quite reclusive, isn’t he?

THWIN: Yes, he’s very reclusive and he does rule like a king and he sort of fancies himself as one. He in fact, reportedly he and his family treats all the other people as courtiers, as if they were a royal family. People have to sit lower than them, they have to bow. It’s kind of ridiculous.

LAM: What do you think about the fact that the junta did not allow Ban Ki-moon to meet with Ms Suu Kyi? Do you think the junta missed an opportunity there to perhaps get back into the good books of the international community?

THWIN: Yes, of course I think they did and what they could have done was let him meet her and then put her back in house arrest and then still not do anything. They could have gotten some good PR out of it and the world would have breathed a big sigh of relief, even if nothing was going forward. So it could mean that they are worried that it might have triggered something, meaning Suu Kyi may have gotten some advantage out of it, so who knows, because frankly nobody really knows why they do the things they do.

LAM: Well already Britain is suggesting that the time might come, well it might be appropriate now for even tougher sanctions against Burma. Do you think that might have any impact at all, given that in the past, the generals just go off and do their own thing anyway?

THWIN: Well Britain alone can’t do any tougher sanctions. There would have to be several of the countries that have ability to affect their investments and so the targeted financial sanctions that the United States has and other countries talk about, if they do more of those it would be more effective, but just for Britain to say well, let’s do tougher sanctions, I doubt they would do it anyway. But it demeans the currency to keep talking about it, they are not doing something strong.

LAM: And just briefly Maureen, what do we know of Ms Suu Kyi in Rangoon at the moment?

THWIN: Well, we’ve heard that she is alright. She is not in any terrible physical danger right now, physical health, so she’s a tough cookie. So I think we would hear if she was not alright.


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