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2009年8月13日 (木)


--The Asahi Shimbun, Aug. 12(IHT/Asahi: August 13,2009)
EDITORIAL: Suu Kyi's ordeal

The military junta of Myanmar (Burma) on Tuesday ordered pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi to remain under house arrest for an additional 18 months.

Suu Kyi was indicted on charges of violating the national defense law, which bans contact with the outside. She is accused of letting an American stay after he allegedly slipped past authorities to swim across a lake to her home.

The court sentenced her to three years in prison with hard labor, a ruling quickly commuted by the military regime to house arrest for 18 months.

The junta, mindful of international criticism, was apparently keen to demonstrate its leniency. But the decision does nothing to change the travesty of Suu Kyi's indictment, which was based on spurious grounds.

Suu Kyi has spent 14 years either under house arrest or in detention.

The extension is aimed at keeping her isolated from the political scene next year, when the junta will hold parliamentary elections to turn the country over to "civilian rule."

But the regime cannot possibly hope to claim legitimacy for an election held under such circumstances.

Japan and many other countries are calling for the release of Suu Kyi and other political prisoners in Myanmar. The junta should heed the call immediately.

The military regime seized power in a 1988 coup, and then ignored the results of a 1990 parliamentary election won by Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy in a landslide.
Since then, the generals have only tightened their iron grip over the nation.

Two years ago, the military brutally crushed demonstrations by thousands of Buddhist monks and citizens seeking better living conditions. Japanese journalist Kenji Nagai was murdered by security forces, who shot him while he filmed the protests.

The self-justifying stance of the Myanmar junta is casting dark clouds all over Asia.

Of particular concern are suspicions that the country is advancing military cooperation with North Korea.

A North Korean ship tracked by the U.S. military in June on suspicion of carrying weapons and other cargoes banned under U.N. sanctions is thought to have been headed for Myanmar.

Reports also say an underground tunnel system that appears to be part of a nuclear facility is under construction near the capital Naypyidaw, with Pyongyang's cooperation.

On a visit to Thailand in July, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton expressed concerns about a possible transfer of nuclear technology from North Korea to Myanmar.

The security environment throughout Asia will shift drastically if Myanmar is developing nuclear weapons.

Until now, the Japanese government has maintained dialogue with the junta and refrained from strong criticism. Its chief concern is that driving the military rulers into a corner would only strengthen the clout of China, which traditionally has close ties with Myanmar.

But such a soft approach can no longer be justified if Myanmar is pursuing a nuclear program. The Japanese government should call on China to exercise its influence on Myanmar, and China should treat the situation seriously.

Japan should also cooperate more closely with other countries when dealing with Myanmar, partly as a way to give teeth to U.N. sanctions against North Korea.


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« サイバー攻撃 ネット社会に深刻な脅威だ | トップページ | 年金改革 党派の対立超え接点を探れ »