Senior officials of the 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) have agreed to ask their respective foreign ministers for an appeal to Myanmar to secure release of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, said Indonesia on Friday.
It this decision is approved, it would mark a firm stance of ASEAN over Myanmar which has only expressed “deep disappointment” at Suu Kyi’s detention.
It may be mentioned that Suu Kyi, who has spent 14 of the last 20 years in detention, was last week awarded a further term of 18 months of house arrest for infringing an internal security law in a case of the visit of an American to her house uninvited.
“We need to convey our legitimate concerns over the case of Aung San Suu Kyi. Be it in the form of a letter or joint statement it’s up to the foreign ministers to decide,” said Imron Cotan, Indonesia’s delegate at the Jakarta meeting and the secretary general of the foreign ministry.
Needless to add, ASEAN, which has a policy of non-intervention in the domestic affairs of member nations, is seen by many as a toothless talking shop.
The fresh sentence awarded to Suu Kyi means that she will be unable to take part in elections next year that have already been dismissed by critics as a sham aimed at legitimising the army’s grip on power.
The United States and the European Union have condemned Myanmar over Suu Kyi’s detention, but their influence over the junta is limited given the former Burma’s thriving trade with China, India and Thailand.