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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        23  June 2011

Suu Kyi calls for rights probe

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Myanmar's pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, speaking on Wednesday to the US Congress for the first time in a video message, urged support for a UN-led inquiry into human rights in her country.

The Nobel Peace laureate, who was released in November after spending most of the past two decades under house arrest, told a House of Representatives hearing that a so-called UN commission of inquiry would not be a tribunal.

"It is simply a commission of inquiry to find out what human rights violations have taken place and what we can do to ensure that such violations do not take place in the future," she told the hearing.

Suu Kyi asked US lawmakers to "do whatever you can" to support the efforts of Tomas Ojea Quintana, UN special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, who has not been able to visit the country since February 2010.

Suu Kyi, whose National League for Democracy won 1990 elections but was never allowed to take power, warned of a long path toward democracy.

"It is going to be a long road; it has already been a long road and a difficult one, and no doubt the road ahead will have its difficulties as well," she said.

But she added: "With the help and support of true friends, I'm sure we will be able to tread the path of democracy, not easily and perhaps not as quickly as we would like, but surely and steadily."

The United States has publicly supported a UN-led probe - a long-standing demand of activists - but has done little to make it a reality amid concerns that Asian countries, particularly China, would succeed in scuttling it.

UN-led commissions of inquiry elsewhere in the world have led to charges and prosecution, with Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir risking arrest if he travels to countries that recognise the International Criminal Court.

Human rights groups say that Myanmar, earlier known as Burma, has a record of severe human rights abuses including extra-judicial killings, custodial deaths, torture and frequent rape of displaced women from minority groups.

The trial is ongoing.


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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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