Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - ‘Send Suu Kyi home from prison’

‘Send Suu Kyi home from prison’

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Former Myanmar civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi during her visit to Cambodia in 2019. Heng Chivoan

‘Send Suu Kyi home from prison’

Cambodia called on Myanmar’s ruling State Administration Council (SAC) to release former civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi from imprisonment in solitary confinement.

Prak Sokhonn – Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation who is also presently serving as the ASEAN chair’s special envoy on Myanmar – made the call after Suu Kyi was reportedly transferred last week from house arrest in Naypyidaw to what observers described as much harsher conditions in the solitary confinement wing of the capital’s prison.

Sokhonn urged all parties to the conflict in the crisis-hit country and especially the SAC to begin negotiating towards a peaceful resolution and a national reconciliation without any further delay.

He emphasised that the talks must be inclusive and involve all factions currently involved in the conflict, according to the ministry’s June 27 press release.

Sokhonn and his ASEAN colleagues have expressed “deep concerns” over this latest move and urged the SAC to facilitate her return to the home where she was originally detained.

“I have no doubt that these same concerns resonate far beyond ASEAN, considering that Aung San Suu Kyi is highly regarded internationally and considered by many in Myanmar as having played a critical role in your country’s return to normalcy after its long period of isolation.

“It is imperative that she be involved in talks that lead to national reconciliation through peaceful political solutions,” Sokhonn wrote in a recent letter to SAC-appointed foreign minister Wunna Maung Lwin.

Sokhonn further encouraged the SAC to exercise “compassion” and enable the return of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize laureate to her home on humanitarian grounds in light of her fragile health and overall well-being, as well as out of respect for the fair and judicious practice of the rule of law.

“We all share the view that a peaceful national reconciliation cannot be effectuated when one party to the conflict is taken out of the resolution equation,” he wrote.

“Therefore, all our ASEAN colleagues strongly encourage the [SAC] to begin an inclusive process of national reconciliation without further delay. A peaceful political resolution to a conflict, no matter how complex it is, must involve the sharing of political space by all those involved.”

Sokhonn said recently that he would visit Myanmar in July, making it his second trip there as the bloc’s special envoy.

Prime Minister Hun Sen, in his capacity as ASEAN chair, recently called on SAC leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing to reconsider plans to execute members of opposition groups they had captured or arrested.

Hun Sen said the capital punishments are a cause of great concern among all ASEAN member states as well as the bloc’s outside partners. And if the executions were to actually be carried out, it would cause a widespread negative reaction and backlash from the international community.

He said that if the SAC begins executing political opponents, it will have a serious impact on the progress of efforts made by ASEAN and Cambodia as chair in supporting Myanmar’s return to full participation in the bloc, and that it would sabotage efforts to find a peaceful solution through dialogue as outlined in the ASEAN Five-Point Consensus (5PC) on the crisis there.

Malaysia-based The Star, citing SAC spokesman Zaw Min Tun, reported that Suu Kyi was moved on Wednesday to the main prison in Naypyidaw. The newspaper quoted Zaw Min Tun as saying that Suu Kyi was being “well-kept” there.

Yong Pov, a professor of political science at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said that even though Suu Kyi has endured many years of house arrest in the past, this is the first time she has been placed in an actual prison rather than her home.

It is a cause for great concern among the international community, so it is therefore reasonable and just that Sokhonn advocates for her release, he said.

“To ease tensions, SAC leader Min Aung Hlaing should return Suu Kyi to house arrest,” he said.

In April, 2021, ASEAN agreed on the 5PC for addressing the Myanmar crisis, but Pov noted that the consensus has never been implemented accordingly by the SAC, although Cambodia as ASEAN chair has tried its utmost to get them to do this.

He said that Hun Sen’s visit to Myanmar back in January was to prepare the grounds for a scenario where the enforcement of the 5PC would be possible and peace talks between all sides could begin.

“In my observation, Min Aung Hlaing seems to have a bad attitude about negotiations and he isn’t accepting any aspect of the five-point consensus as legitimate. He instead seems to be intent on staging provocations and making his nation’s problems even more severe,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Angkor lifetime pass, special Siem Reap travel offers planned

    The Ministry of Tourism plans to introduce a convenient, single lifetime pass for foreign travellers to visit Angkor Archaeological Park and potentially other areas. The move is designed to stimulate tourism to the culturally rich province of Siem Reap as the start of the “Visit

  • Ice cream, noodles flagged over carcinogen

    The General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia (GDCE) has identified three types of instant noodles and ice cream trademarks originating from Thailand, Vietnam and France that are suspected to contain ethylene oxide, which poses a cancer risk to consumers. The general department has

  • Exclusive interview with Josep Borrell Fontelles, High Representative of the EU

    CAMBODIA is hosting the 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and Related Meetings this week with top officials from the US, China, and Russia and other countries in the region slated to attend and to meet with face-to-face with their counterparts on the sidelines. In

  • Rise in Thai air routes to Siem Reap fuels travel hopes

    Local tourism industry players are eager for regional airline Bangkok Airways Pcl’s resumption of direct flight services between the Thai capital and Siem Reap town on August 1 – home of Cambodia’s awe-inspiring Angkor Archaeological Park – which is expected to boost the growth rate of

  • ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ meet commences, Taiwan issue possibly on table

    The 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and related meetings hosted by Cambodia kicks off in Phnom Penh on August 3, with progress, challenges, and the way forward for the ASEAN Community-building on the table. Issues on Taiwan, sparked by the visit of US House Speaker

  • Recap of this year’s ASEAN FM meet and look ahead

    This year’s edition of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) hosted by Cambodia comes against the backdrop of heightened global tensions and increasing rivalry between major powers that have been compared to the animosity of the Cold War era. The following is The Post’