Monday, December 10, 2007

U.N. chief warns Burma's Junta

Picture from Reuters
BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) -- U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned Myanmar the international community was running out of patience with its authoritarian regime, saying Monday the junta must embrace democracy and stop inflicting suffering on its own people.

U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon said Monday it was high time the people of Myanmar enjoyed freedom.

"I know the international community is very much impatient, and our patience is running out," Ban told a news conference in Bangkok, Thailand.

"The people of Myanmar have suffered from isolation for such a long time and it's high time now that the Myanmar authorities and the people ... enjoy democracy and freedom."

A U.N. human rights envoy said Friday that Myanmar's crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in September killed at least 31 people, twice the toll acknowledged by the junta. The envoy, Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, also said that 650 people remained in custody from the crackdown and another 74 people were missing.

The United Nations and governments around the world expressed outrage after the junta's troops opened fire on pro-democracy protests, which were led by Buddhist monks.

Rights groups have reported continued arrests and abuse, despite claims by the junta that the crackdown has stopped.

"I would like to emphasize that the return to statue quo is not acceptable, and is politically unsustainable," Ban said.

He appealed to the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations to play a special role in pushing Myanmar -- one of its members -- toward democratic reforms.

"We need ASEAN's special cooperation," Ban said. "ASEAN has a special political responsibility in promoting further democratization."

ASEAN, which has a stance of not interfering with its members' domestic affairs, has been criticized for not doing enough to pressure Myanmar's military leaders.

Ibrahim Gambari, the U.N.'s special envoy to Myanmar, has toured Southeast Asian countries in recent weeks but failed to get any governments to take a strong public line against their neighbor

No comments: