Burma's youth 'to look for another way out'

July 8, 2009 (DVB), The political stalemate in Burma following Ban Ki-moon's visit could push youth activists to increase pressure on the regime themselves rather than wait for the UN, said a former Burmese ambassador to China.

Frustration has grown in Burma following what many consider to be a failed attempt last week by the UN Secretary General to urge the ruling junta to release political prisoners and begin dialogue with opposition groups.

Thakin Chan Htun, a veteran Burmese politician who was ambassador to both North Korea and China, said that the junta's failure to recognise such an opportunity could lead youth activists to look for another way out of the political crisis.

"The whole world knew that [Ban] was looking forward to a meeting with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi yet [the junta] still denied it," he said, adding that it "clearly shows how the junta regards the UN secretary".

The absence of any dialogue between the junta and opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) party is causing "deadlock" in the country, he continued.

"But things can change unexpectedly and youths are the people who have guts to come forward and do what is needed to do. That's why the junta is arresting every youth who stands up against them."

World leaders, including British prime minister Gordon Brown, have condemned the Burmese government's lack of willingness to meet the requests laid down last weekend by the UN chief.

Some suspect that the looming visit by Thai prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to Burma, ostensibly to discuss business interests between the two countries, could also address the Ban Ki-moon visit.

"It might be to discuss what they can do regarding the points made by Ban Ki-moon, and the [Association of Southeast Asian Nation]'s opinion on Burma issues mentioned in the joint statement," said Dr Thaung Htun, UN representative for the National Coalition Government for the Union of Burma.

Ban Ki-moon is due to prepare a report on the visit after his current diplomatic tour ends, although it remains unclear what steps will now be taken by the UN on Burma.

"We expect a binding resolution based on a UN Security Council discussion," said Thaung Htun.

Gordon Brown on Saturday told the BBC that the lack of a sign of change from the regime "has put increased isolation – including the possibility of further sanctions – on the international agenda".

Reporting by Htet Aung Kyaw

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