Saturday, November 21, 2009
UNITED NATIONS: A key UN committee late on Thursday strongly condemned human rights violations in Myanmar and urged the government to release more than 2,000 political prisoners and open the upcoming elections to all political parties. Myanmar’s United Nations Ambassador Than Swe accused the European Union, which sponsored the resolution, of trying to maintain political pressure “in tandem with sanctions’’ and ignoring ``the vast transformations’’ taking place in the country as it moves toward elections next year.
The UN General Assembly’s human rights committee approved the resolution by a vote of 92-26 with 65 abstentions. It must now beapproved at a plenary session of the 192-member world body where its adoption is virtually certain.
The resolution expresses “grave concern’’ at the recent trial and conviction of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and urges her unconditional release along with all other political prisoners.
The resolution “strongly condemns the ongoing systematic violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms of the people of Myanmar.’’ It also calls on the government to reveal the whereabouts of people who have been detained or disappeared.
Britain’s UN Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said the resolution sets out the actions that the country’s military must take if planned elections are to have any international credibility. The Myanmar government has said it intends to hold elections next year but has not clarified whether Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy that she heads will be allowed to participate. The64-year-old Nobel Peace Prize laureate has been detained for 14 of the past 20 years, mostly under house arrest.
The resolution acknowledges recent contact between the government and Suu Kyi and urges the government to immediately open a dialogue with the opposition leader and other ethnic groups.
Swe, the Myanmar ambassador, made no mention of Suu Kyi in his remarks to the committee, but he said that elections will be “free and fair’’ and that citizens will have the right to form political parties and contest the elections.