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UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Myanmar’s military government on Monday to release all political prisoners including pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. He also urged the government to make “further concrete progress” on all issues raised by his predecessor Kofi Annan including human rights, democratic reforms and national reconciliation.  Ban noted the government’s decision on Jan. 3 to grant amnesty to 2,831 prisoners and welcomed reports that this included up to 40 political prisoners.
“The secretary-general urges the Myanmar authorities to go beyond this first step by releasing all other political prisoners in the country, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi,” UN spokeswoman Michele Montas said.  The United Nations and human rights groups estimate the junta is holding more than 1,100 political prisoners. Myanmar’s junta took power in 1988 after crushing the democracy movement led by Suu Kyi. In 1990, it refused to hand over power when Suu Kyi’s party won a landslide election victory. Suu Kyi won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. Since her party’s election victory, Suu Kyi has been in and out of detention. She is kept in near-solitary confinement at her home and is generally not allowed telephone contact or outside visitors.
The United Nations has run into stiff opposition in its efforts to win support for a Security Council resolution to press Myanmar’s military government to change policies that Washington believes pose a threat to international peace and security. China and Russia, two of the five permanent, veto-wielding council members, strongly opposed putting Myanmar on the council’s agenda and do not support a resolution.

Monday’s statement is the latest UN effort to win the release of Ms. Suu Kyi and follows a four-day visit to the South East Asian nation in November by Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari, a UN press release said. Gambari also called for the release of political prisoners, as well as for Myanmar to open up its political process and take “concrete steps” to address other areas of global concern, including hostilities against minorities

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