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U.n. Envoy Expresses Concern Over Restrictions Placed On Suu Kyi
(P. S. Suryanarayana)

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SINGAPORE: The meeting between United Nations Under-Secretary General Ibrahim Gambari and Myanmar's celebrated democracy campaigner, Aung San Suu Kyi, is seen in Southeast Asian diplomatic circles as a welcome development.
There is no immediate indication, though, about the future course of action by Myanmar's military ruler, Senior General Than Shwe, on the inter-related issues of releasing Ms. Suu Kyi from prolonged detention and allowing her to promote the democracy agenda.
Mr. Gambari is understood to have noted, after his meeting with Ms. Suu Kyi in Yangon, that she is still under restrictions and expressed his concern. He is the first foreign dignitary to have been allowed to meet her since the international community intensified pressure on Myanmar's rulers to let the world know something about her treatment under detention and her political plans.
When Myanmar "voluntarily" decided to give up its turn to chair the ASEAN this year, the other members of the association played a critical role in persuading Sr. Gen. Than Shwe take that step.
Thereafter, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Malaysian Foreign Minister Hamid Albar visited Myanmar on behalf of the ASEAN. But they were not allowed to meet Ms. Suu Kyi to ascertain her condition and views. So, Myanmar is now seen to have asserted its autonomy as a member of the ASEAN by preferring the U.N. as an interlocutor in this case.
A Western view is that Sr. Gen. Than Shwe has now buckled under pressure from the United States in allowing a U.N. official's visit to Ms. Suu Kyi. However, a view in Southeast Asia is that Myanmar wants to signal that it treats its main political prisoner in a much better way than the record of the U.S. at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere.



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