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AFP-Aung San Suu Kyi hits out at IC
- Subject: AFP-Aung San Suu Kyi hits out at IC
- From: tinkyi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Thu, 03 Jun 1999 21:02:00
Subject: AFP-Aung San Suu Kyi hits out at ICRC's Myanmar jail visits
Aung San Suu Kyi hits out at ICRC's Myanmar jail visits
ATTENTION - ADDS quotes, details, background///
BANGKOK, June 3 (AFP) - Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has
claimed the military government transferred hundreds of political prisoners
from a Yangon jail before a pioneering Red Cross inspection last month.
Aung San Suu Kyi said in an interview in Thursday's Financial Times that
"hundreds" of prisoners were moved from the notorious Insein jail before
International Committee of the Red Cross delegates were allowed to make
first visit to a Myanmar prison on May 6.
Many were banished to jails in the provinces far from their families and
others remained unaccounted for, she said.
"This created tremendous hardship," Aung San Suu Kyi was quoted as
adding that many prisoners depended on family visits for food and medicines.
"This kind of transfer is a matter of life and death for our party
members," she added.
The ICRC said in a statement from Geneva last month it had been allowed
access to Myanmar jails for the first time after lengthy negotiations.
It said it had also been authorised to visit all detention centres in the
country, after it opened an office in the capital last October.
Aung San Suu Kyi was quoted as saying that the ICRC should have consulted
with the party before starting the prison visits.
"If the ICRC had consulted us earlier we could have pointed out the fact
that the government had started to transfer our prisoners and they should
demand that this stop as a condition for inspecting these prisons," she
Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) party won an
overwhelming victory in Myanmar's 1990 elections but the junta has refused
relinqush power and has imprisoned hundreds of party members.
The newspaper quoted a Geneva-based official of the ICRC as saying that
delegates did not consult Aung San Suu Kyi because it was trying to build
confidence with the government.
"To reach our objectives, including pointing out to authorities that
visits are important both materially and psychologically, we need to work
inside the prisons," the official said.
"This is a process that cannot produce results in a few weeks but over
medium and long term."
Many prisoners who have served time in Insein jail have emerged with
tales of appalling conditions and claimed they were tortured or held in
On Wednesday the junta said Hla Khin, 43, an NLD member who was jailed
under the country's 1975 anti-subversion laws, committed suicide in Insein.
His death and the circumstances surrounding it could not be independently
There was no immeditate response to the newspaper's report from the
It came days after it emerged that the United Nations was preparing to
visit Yangon to try to revive a stalled initiative aimed at eventually
granting aid to Myanmar in exchange for political reform.
Sources in Yangon Tuesday told AFP that Alvaro de Soto, a special envoy
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, would visit Myanmar this year,
possibly in August.
De Soto last visited Yangon in October, when one billion dollars in
non-humanitarian aid was reportedly floated as a way of breaking the
deadlock and bringing the junta to the negotiating table.
The international community has suspended all but non-humanitarian aid to
Myanmar in reaction to widespread allegations of gross human rights abuses
well as Yangon's refusal to recognise 1990 elections.