PHNOM PENH—A special envoy of the ASEAN chair on Myanmar has urged the country’s military regime to return democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi from solitary confinement in prison to the home where she was originally detained.
Following a military takeover in February last year, the junta detained the 77-year-old under house arrest until June 22, when it moved her to Naypyitaw Prison. The regime’s spokesperson said she was transferred to the prison according to the code of criminal procedure and placed in solitary confinement.
The transfer prompted widespread expressions of alarm, with a spokesman for UN Secretary-General António Guterres saying the UN was very concerned about the latest developments, adding that they went against everything the organization has been calling for in regards to the situation in Myanmar.
In a letter to regime Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin, ASEAN Special Envoy Prak Sokhonn on Monday urged the junta to exercise “compassion and facilitate the return of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to the home” where she was originally detained due to “her fragile health and wellbeing as well as fair and judicious practice of the rule of law”, echoing “deep concerns expressed by ASEAN colleagues.”
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a 10-member bloc and Myanmar is a member.
“I have no doubt that the same concern resonates beyond ASEAN, considering that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is regarded internationally and by many in Myanmar as having a critical role in your country’s return to normalcy and national reconciliation through a peaceful political solution,” the envoy said.
“We all share the view that a peaceful national reconciliation cannot be expected when one party to the conflict is taken out of the resolution equation,” he added.
The request comes a few days before his second visit to Myanmar this year.
Following the regime’s post-coup bloody crackdowns on protesters, ASEAN last year adopted a five-point peace plan for Myanmar, including an immediate cessation of the junta’s violence against its own people.
However, the plan has largely failed, as the junta has continued to commit extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests and torching of civilian properties as it tries to crush armed resistance forces across the country. So far, the regime has killed more than 2,000 people.
Prak Sokhonn was appointed as the ASEAN special envoy for Myanmar this year to mediate between all parties concerned.
He visited the country early this year but only met regime officials. Upon returning from the visit, he said the Myanmar issue was complicated and would take a long time to solve, as the “stakeholders were not ready to cooperate and still insist on fighting and eliminating one another.”
In May, Hun Sen, the prime minister of Cambodia, which currently holds ASEAN’s rotating chair, urged the Myanmar regime leader to let the bloc’s envoy meet with the country’s detained democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and President U Win Myint to “create a conducive environment to start an inclusive political dialogue.”
However, regime chief Min Aung Hlaing responded that he would only “facilitate meetings with other parties concerned,” meaning the envoy will not have access to either during his forthcoming visit.
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