Former World Leaders Call for the Release of Suu Kyi
covering burma and southeast asia
Monday, August 15, 2022

Former World Leaders Call for the Release of Suu Kyi

By Lalit K Jha/New York Tuesday, May 15, 2007


In the strongest ever consolidation of prominent world leaders o­n the issue of Burma, as many as 59 former heads of state—prime ministers and presidents—on Monday urged the Burmese military government to immediately release Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest.

The appeal, conveyed in a letter to Snr-Gen Than Shwe, comes less than two weeks before Suu Kyi’s current o­ne-year term of house arrest is scheduled to expire o­n May 27.

The world’s o­nly imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Suu Kyi has been under house arrest for more than 11 of the last 18 years and continuously since May 2003, after the infamous 2003 Depayin massacre in which over 70 supporters of her pro-democracy party, the National League for Democracy, were killed by a government-backed mob.

The letter is dated May 15 and carries the signatures of former British prime ministers John Major and Margaret Thatcher; former US presidents Jimmy Carter, George H W Bush and Bill Clinton; former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohammad; former Indonesian president Megawati Sukarnoputri; two former Indian prime ministers, V P Singh and Chandra Shekhar; and the former Thailand prime minister Chuan Leekpai.

“We strongly urge you to respond to the United Nations and countless other countries and regional groupings around the world by releasing Aung San Suu Kyi before May 27th and committing to participate in peaceful, tripartite dialogue as outlined by the General Assembly,” said the letter, which was released simultaneously in New York and Oslo by Kjell Magne Bondevik, the former Norwegian prime minister.

The campaign to organize world leaders and shape a common voice o­n Burma—an unprecedented move—was spearheaded by Bondevik, who is founder and president of the Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights.

“I am immensely grateful for this global outpouring of support for Aung San Suu Kyi from so many former heads of state. It is a testament to the remarkable inspiration that she gives not o­nly to her own people, but to me and so many countless others around the world,” said Bondevik in a statement.

A copy of the letter has also been sent to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, who soon after becoming the head of the world body had called upon the Burmese military leaders o­n January 8 to release Suu Kyi, the o­nly imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

The letter has also been sent to all members of the UN Security Council and to Aung Shwe, Chairman of the NLD.

“Aung San Suu Kyi is not calling for revolution in Burma, but rather peaceful, nonviolent dialogue between the military, National League for Democracy and Burma’s ethnic groups. The UN General Assembly resolution, and 15 previous resolutions also support this approach,” said the letter.

The world leaders reminded the defiant Burmese rulers of the resolution passed by the UN General Assembly that expressed “grave concern” at “the extension of the house arrest of the General Secretary of the NLD, Suu Kyi” and strongly called upon them “to release all political prisoners immediately and unconditionally, including National League for Democracy leaders Suu Kyi and Tin Oo.”

The call for Suu Kyi’s release was most recently reiterated in a statement released o­n May 10 by as many as 14 UN human rights mandate holders led by UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Burma, Paulo Sergio Pinheiro.

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