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Home  >>  Daily News  >>  Myanmar News  >>  Politics  >>  Rights groups express concern over UN chief’s visit to Myanmar

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28 June 2009

Rights groups express concern over UN chief’s visit to Myanmar

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A UN's special envoy ended a two-day visit to Myanmar after meeting the country's foreign minister to prepare for a trip by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, AFP quoted state television as reporting.

Rights groups fear any such visit will lend legitimacy to the ruling junta's trial of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The Nobel Peace laureate is in prison and faces up to five years in jail on the charges she violated her house arrest after an uninvited American man swam to her closely guarded lakeside home last month and stayed two days. Her trial has spark international outrage.

State television reported Saturday that the envoy, Ibrahim Gambari, met with Foreign Minister Nyan Win in the capital of Naypyitaw and discussed plans for a visit by Ban.

Gambari is expected to report to the secretary-general before Ban leaves for a trip to Japan on Monday.

Ban recently told the Associated Press that he was looking at the "appropriate timing" for a visit.

Human Rights Watch and some governments have urged UN chief not to visit now, arguing the trip could be exploited by the military government, which might portray it as an endorsement of the legitimacy of Suu Kyi's trial.

But Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy supports the trip, and other countries say the alternative is to do nothing and miss an opportunity to have the secretary-general press for Suu Kyi's release and push for more open and inclusive elections next year.

Gambari left Yangon, the country's commercial capital, on Saturday night for Bangkok. He did not meet Suu Kyi or members of her party.

It was Gambari's eighth visit since 2006 when he was appointed the UN chief's special representative to promote political reconciliation in Myanmar. The envoy has met with both junta leaders and Suu Kyi but failed to nudge the military regime toward talks with the pro-democracy movement.

Myanmar, also known as Burma, country has been under military rule since 1962. The junta refused to recognize the results of 1990 general elections won by Suu Kyi's party.

Suu Kyi's trial has drawn outrage from the international community and from her local supporters, who say the military government is using the incident as an excuse to keep her detained through the 2010 elections.


 

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