UN Has Great Expectations from Suu Kyi, Says Ban

By Lalit K Jha 24 September 2012

WASHINGTON DC—The 193-member United Nations has great expectations from Aung San Suu Kyi, said the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in New York on Friday, adding that he hoped the Burmese opposition leader would lead her country on a path of reconciliation and greater participatory democracy.

Speaking to reporters following his meeting with Suu Kyi at the UN headquarters in New York where she worked decades ago, Ban also praised the Burmese president, Thein Sein, and said he hoped that the two leaders would continue to work together for the greater good of the country and its people.

“We have great expectations and hope that she will lead this path of reconciliation and greater participatory democracy and development of her country, together with President Thein Sein of Myanmar [Burma],” Ban said. “In that regard, I pay my great tribute to President Thein Sein and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. They have been walking together down the path of reconciliation and political stability and democracy and human rights, and I really count on her continuing support.”

Praising her commitment to peace, security and human rights, Ban said Suu Kyi is now a global symbol of human rights.

Later this week, Suu Kyi will participate in the global Education First initiative, which Ban is scheduled to launch on Wednesday. “We discussed a lot on how the United Nations and the Myanmar government and herself … can work together for democratization,” he said.

Looking forward to his meeting with Thein Sein, who is participating in the UN General Assembly, Ban said he had a good discussion with the Burmese president during his recent visit to the country, and they agreed on six points to help the Burmese government.

The UN secretary-general said that all these points are “on track,” including the normalization of UN activities, and that for the first time in 30 years, Burma would conduct a census of population and housing, and that the UN was helping the country to eliminate drugs and promote socio-economic development.

Responding to reporters’ questions asking if her visit to the US coinciding with that of Thein Sein would overshadow the president’s trip, Suu Kyi said one should not think in terms of personalities. “I think we should think about it as a common goal,” she said. “If we all want to achieve genuine democracy for Burma, we have to learn to work together and not think about our impact as personalities, either in our country or in the world at large.”

Suu Kyi said she had a “good meeting” with the US president, Barack Obama, at the White House last week. “I was very happy to be able to meet him and I considered it a good meeting,” she said, adding that she is happy that the US is now lifting sanctions from Burma.

“I am happy that sanctions are now being lifted because—as I have been saying, rather ad nauseam—it is time now that the Burmese people took responsibility for the democratization of their country. I am very, very appreciative of what the US Congress has done for many years to support our movement, but now we have to try to work on our own, of course, with the continuing support and help of friends,” Suu Kyi said.

This was Suu Kyi’s first visit to the United Nations headquarters in New York since she was released from house arrest in late 2010. She reached New York after a visit to Washington DC where she received the Congressional Gold Medal.

While in New York, Suu Kyi was honored at the Global Citizen Awards Dinner hosted by the Atlantic Council.

Despite spending much of the last two decades under house arrest, she played a historic role in the recent Burmese elections, marking an important triumph that continues to inspire people across the globe, the Atlantic Council said. International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde presented the award to her.

Suu Kyi said she was dedicating her award to the unsung heroes of her country who are fighting for democracy and human rights: “Those unknown soldiers are so much bigger than others like me who are known and who have been given so many honors,” she said.

Meanwhile, on Sunday, the Kachin National Organization (KNO), sent an open letter to Ban Ki-moon calling for the UN to address issues of human rights abuses against innocent Kachin civilians at its meeting on the Rule of Law on Monday.

“Despite the international euphoria surrounding purported reform in Burma, grave human rights violations are increasing to an alarming level while the international community selectively focuses their attention on investment. We, the KNO, therefore urge you and your office to address the following issues in your upcoming high-level UN meeting on the Rule of Law on Sept 24, 2012,” it said.