US concerned over Suu Kyi’s safety

A top US official has said the world must be vigilant about the safety of Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, almost a month after she was freed from house arrest.

“When she was last released in 2002, she was nearly assassinated by the country’s military regime and eventually recommitted to house arrest,” said Democratic Representative Joseph Crowley, who spoke to the Nobel laureate over the phone yesterday.

It comes as the US deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, Joseph Y. Yun, who is in Burma on a four-day visit, yesterday met with representatives of ten political parties that won seats in the recent elections.

He is due to meet with Suu Kyi, who was banned from participating in the elections, on Friday before he flies out of the country. Since her release on 13 November, the 65-year-old has been busy meeting with domestic groups and foreign officials, whilst spending time with her son, Kim Aris, who left Burma yesterday.

Crowley is not the first person to voice concerns about the safety of Suu Kyi, who is the biggest political threat to the ruling junta in Burma.

No conditions were placed on her release, meaning she is free to travel the country, but it was a visit to Mandalay division during her last stint of freedom in 2003 that ended in the bloody Depayin massacre, when a junta-backed mob attacked her convoy, killing around 70 of her supporters.

Suu Kyi said shortly after her release last month that she was aware of security concerns, and the possibility that she may again be placed under house arrest.

In a video message to the European Development Days forum, which gathers leaders of developing nations, she called for more aid to civil society groups in Burma.

“If development policies could be linked as strongly to the strengthening of civil society as to the improvement of the economy, it would create a strong impetus towards good governance,” AFP quoted her as saying.

“Financial and intellectual investment in civil society would have rich returns that include accountability and transparency, not just in the economic sector but also in the political arena.”

Burma receives the lowest amount of international aid in Southeast Asia, largely as a result of systemic corruption within the country and the economic embargo implemented by a number of western states. It ranked 132 out of 169 countries on the latest UN Human Development Index.

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