UN Secretary General presses Myanmar to free Suu Kyi

NEW YORK: United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon today pressed Myanmar’s military rulers to free political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi, less than a week before the expected verdict in the trial of the detained democracy icon.

“I expect authorities of Myanmar will respond positively and in a timely manner to the expectation and concerns and repeated calls of the international community to release all political prisoners and particularly Aung San Suu Kyi,” he told reporters.

He spoke after convening a meeting of the “Group of Friends of the Secretary-General on Myanmar” and said he received strong support from its 14 members for his release call.

The group brings together Australia, Indonesia, Russia, the United States, China, Japan, Singapore, Vietnam, France, Norway, Thailand, India, Portugal and Britain.

Ban said the group agreed to hold a second high-level meeting on the sidelines

of the UN General Assembly next month similar to one he hosted last year.

Aung San Suu Kyi faces

up to five years in jail if

convicted of violating her house arrest rules, after an American man swam uninvited to her lakeside home in May.

On July 31, a Myanmar court put off its verdict in Aung San Suu Kyi’s trial until August 11, adding to uncertainty over the junta’s plans for the democracy icon.

Meanwhile Ban said he had received no clear indication from the country’s rulers as to when they plan to honour their pledge for an amnesty for some political prisoners.