Leaders and protesters from around the world have condemned the verdict against Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s pro-democracy opposition leader.
Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, said he “strongly deplored” the decision to keep Suu Kyi under house arrest for another 18 months, and called for her immediate release.
“Unless she and all other political prisoners in Myanmar are released and [are] allowed to participate in free and fair elections, the credibility of the political process will remain in doubt,” he said.
But members of the UN Security Council failed on Tuesday to reach an agreement on the wording of a draft statement concerning Aung San Suu Kyi’s conviction and sentence.
“There was considerable support for the principle of a statement, but a number of delegations wanted to refer the statement back to their capitals overnight for advice and instructions,” John Sawers, the British ambassador to the UN, said on Tuesday.
‘Unjustified and unacceptable’
The European Union has vowed to bring new sanctions against Myanmar following the verdict, saying it would “respond with additional targeted measures against those responsible for the verdict”.
“In addition, the EU will further reinforce its restrictive measures targeting the regime of Burma/Myanmar, including its economic interests,” the Swedish EU presidency said in a statement.
An EU said the 27-nation bloc had launched a “written procedure” to boost sanctions, which will come into force on Friday, as long as EU capitals do not oppose the move.
The bloc first imposed sanctions on Myanmar in 1996, banning arms exports, imposing visa restrictions on junta allies and families, limiting diplomatic contacts and freezing officials’ offshore accounts.
In 2007 it banned European firms from importing wood, minerals, gems and metals, following a government crackdown on Buddhist monks’ pro-democracy protests.
Jose Manuel Barroso, the EU Commission chief, said Aung San Suu Kyi’s detention was “unjustified and unacceptable” on all accounts.
Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, added her voice to calls to release the pro-democracy icon, along with other political prisoners.
“We also call for the release of more than 2,000 political prisoners including the American John Yettaw,” she said while on an official visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In Australia, the country’s foreign minister said he had asked the ambassador to Myanmar to convey the government’s sentiment of dismay to the ruling generals.
“The regime still has the opportunity to set aside the conviction and sentence, release Aung San Suu Kyi and move down the path of national reconciliation,” Stephen Smith said.
“Australia and the international community stand ready to assist Burma if the regime moves towards democracy,” he said, using Myanmar’s former name.
Protesters across Asia and in some European capitals have also held demonstrations calling for the immediate release of the 64-year-old.
Rallies were held in Thailand, Japan, South Korea and the Philippines, before the Myanmar court ruled Aung San Suu Kyi was guilty of violating security law.
Following the verdict, activists gathered in London, Britain’s capital, outside the Myanmar embassy, to demand her release.
Anna Roberts, the director of the Burma Campaign UK, which is calling for a global arms embargo on Myanmar, said the “international community has a responsibility”.
“Time and again it has failed to act, but now is the time,” she said.
London-based Amnesty International also called the sentence “shameful … nothing more than legal and political theatre.”