Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Global reaction on Aung San Suu Kyi’s sentence

by Mizzima News
Wednesday, 12 August 2009 20:46

New Delhi (Mizzima) - The special court in Rangoon’s Insein prison on Tuesday convicted Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and delivered a suspended sentence of 18 months to be served in her lakeside home. The verdict threw up various responses by governments across the world. Below is a roundup of international responses to the ruling.

United States

President Barack Obama said the court’s conviction on Aung San Suu Kyi “Violate universal principles of human rights,” and is against Burma’s commitments under the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Charter and “demonstrate continued disregard for UN Security Council statements.”

Obama called on the Burmese junta to immediately release Aung San Suu Kyi and also expressed concern over the sentence of the American citizen John Yettaw, saying the punishment is “out of proportion with his actions.”


Prime Minister Stephen Harper condemned the Burmese military regime for sentencing Aung San Suu Kyi to a further 18 months of detention.

“This decision is clearly not in accordance with the rule of law: the charges laid against her were baseless and her trial did not come close to meeting international standards of due process. Her continued detention is unwarranted, unjustified, and vindictive,” Harper said.

He said, the Burmese regime has cooked-up an excuse to keep the Burmese opposition leader in detention to ensure that she will not be able to participate in the proposed 2010 elections.

“This is just the latest evidence that this regime is not serious about pursuing legitimate democratic elections in Burma. Canada calls on the regime to unconditionally free all political prisoners and allow all citizens, including opposition groups, to freely participate in the electoral process,” Harper said.

United Kingdom

Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he is “saddened and angry” at the verdict on Aung San Suu Kyi and called on UN Security Council to respond resolutely and impose an arms embargo on the regime.

Brown said, “This is a purely political sentence designed to prevent her from taking part in the regime's planned elections next year.”

He said as long as Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners remain in detention and are prevented from playing their full part in the political process, the junta’s planned elections in 2010 will have no credibility or legitimacy.

European Union (EU)

The European Union condemns the sentencing of Aung San Suu Kyi saying it will tighten sanctions on the Burmese regime.

“The EU will respond with additional targeted measures against those responsible for the verdict. In addition, the EU will further reinforce its restrictive measures targeting the regime of Burma/Myanmar, including its economic interests,” the EU said in a statement released on Tuesday.

The EU also called for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners saying it is the first step towards national reconciliation, if the junta’s planned general elections in 2010 is to be treated as “credible, free and fair.”


The spokesperson of the Singaporean Foreign Ministry said Singapore is “disappointed” that Aung San Suu Kyi has been convicted.

Singapore, however, said it is happy that the Burmese government exercised its power to reduce her sentence to half and allowing her to be placed under house arrest rather than being imprisoned.

“We are heartened that Minister of Home Affairs Major General Maung Oo had announced that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will be allowed to see doctors and nurses, communicate with her party, watch local television channels, read local newspapers and journals, and can receive visitors with the government's permission and that there is a possibility that she could receive amnesty for the remainder of her sentence,” said the Singaporean Foreign Ministry statement.

The Philippines

The Philippines’ Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto G. Romulo said the sentence on Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is “incomprehensible and deplorable,” and urged the Burmese Government to reconsider its decision and call for the immediate and unconditional release of Aung San Suu Kyi.

Romulo, in a statement, said, “This new ruling places doubt on the commitment of the Government of Myanmar [Burma] to hold free, fair, participatory, transparent, and credible elections in 2010.”

This new development has once again sidetracked Burma’s efforts to carry out its own “Roadmap for Democracy”: its avowed programme of releasing political detainees, including unfettering the National League for Democracy, and allowing its unconditional participation in free elections, Romulo added.


Malaysian Foreign Minister Datuk Anifah Aman said, Malaysia is “deeply disappointed” over the decision to place Aung San Suu Kyi in detention for eighteen months.

He said, “Malaysia will undertake immediate consultation among ASEAN member countries to discuss further on this development.”

“The Government of Myanmar [Burma] should show its strong commitment towards national reconciliation and democratization process to implement its Road Map for Democracy,” the Foreign Minister said in a statement, reiterating the call to release all political prisoners including Aung San Suu Kyi.

South Africa

South Africa’s Deputy Minister of International Relations and Co-operation Ebrahim Ebrahim said, “The government of South Africa is deeply saddened and regrets the decision of the Myanmar authorities to convict Aung San Suu Kyi on charges of subversion.”

“The South African government believes an opportunity for movement towards democratisation, nation building and reconciliation has been lost. Accordingly, the South African government calls for Aung San Suu Kyi’s immediate release so that she can participate in preparations for the 2010 elections,” he added.


The official spokesperson of India’s Ministry of External Affairs said, “We have seen reports of the sentencing of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar [Burma] for a period of 18 months.

He said, India has stressed to the Burmese Government of the need to expedite their political reform and national reconciliation process.

“We have maintained that this process should be broad based, including the various ethnic groups. In this context, the issue of release of political prisoners will no doubt receive due attention,” the official spokesperson said.


While China has made no official statement so far, in response to Reuters’ questions, the Chinese Foreign Minister spokeswoman said the world should respect Burma’s judicial sovereignty, indicating that Beijing would not back UN action against the country.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said China wants to see all political stake holders to come to a dialogue but requested non-interference by the outside world.

“As a neighbour of Myanmar's [Burma’s], China hopes all sides in Myanmar can push ethnic reconciliation through talks, and gradually realize stability, democracy and development," Reuters quoted Jiang as saying.

“This not only accords with Myanmar's [Burma’s] interests, it is also beneficial to regional stability," Jiang added.

“As for the related domestic case, international society should fully respect Myanmar's [Burma’s] judicial sovereignty," Jiang said.

United Nations

The spokesperson of the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, in a statement, said Ban is “deeply disappointed” by the verdict on Aung San Suu Kyi and “strongly deplores” the decision.

“The Secretary-General urges the Government to immediately and unconditionally release Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and to engage with her without delay as an essential partner in the process of national dialogue and reconciliation,” the spokesperson said.

Unless Aung San Suu Kyi and all other political prisoners in Burma are released and allowed to participate in free and fair elections, the credibility of the political process will remain in doubt, Ban said.