Subject: East Timor PM calls for release of Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi

Manila Times and ABS-CBN Interactive

East Timor PM calls for release of Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi

East Timor Prime Minister Jose Ramos Horta joined the clamor of the international community for Myanmar's government to free opposition leader and fellow Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest, ANC reported Saturday.

In an exclusive interview, Horta said keeping Suu Kyi under house arrest “is unfair and unwise.”

“It’s a question of humanity [and] a question of fairness. Aung San Suu Kyi committed no crime whatsoever against their own country, against their own people. Quite the contrary. So, it’s quite unfair and unwise that she remains in prison,” Horta said.

The Prime Minister’s statement breaks a tradition of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations of non-interference by member countries in each other’s domestic affairs.

Horta, however, stood pat on his position despite his country's application for ASEAN membership. "Our potential membership in ASEAN would not preclude me from seeking her release.”

Suu Kyi is Myanmar’s most prominent pro-democracy activist. She has spent more than a decade in detention and is currently under house arrest in Yangon. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Price in 1991 for her peaceful and non-violent struggle against Myanmar's military junta.

Meanwhile, Clarita Carlos, a political science professor at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, noted that Horta was not the first prominent personality to pressure Myanmar on the issue.

“Why are we giving so much importance [to his statement]? That it was a Nobel laureate who made this declaration? He is not the first person who said this… he’s just one of the persons who have articulated this thing which many, many times many people have articulated including our own political leader,” she said.

Carlos said that while Horta is entitled to his opinion he could not change the methods of the ASEAN in the same way that the ASEAN could not and would not compel people to change.



EXCLUSIVE: Nobel Prize Winner Speaks on Iraq, Myanmar

By Lucille Talusan CBN News Asia Correspondent

January 17, 2007 - In an exclusive interview, Nobel Peace Prize winner, East Timor Prime Minister Jose Ramos-Horta said retreat in Iraq now would not help stability in the region.

CBN News Asia Correspondent Lucille Talusan spoke with Prime Minister Horta at the 12th Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit in Cebu, Philippines on Iraq and other issues facing the region.

Horta also talked about the challenges facing ASEAN more than four decades after its creation, suggesting its effectiveness and credibility are at stake if it allows the problem of member nation Mynamar to linger.

East Timor gained independence from Indonesia in 1999 and is the newest associate member of ASEAN.

Lucille Talusan: What is the importance of such an organization like the ASEAN to the global community?

PM HORTA: ASEAN has been very important now on its fortieth year since its formation going back to the height of the Cold War. It navigated through the Cold War, played important role in stabilizing the region. It needs to look forward to adapt to the changing world. It has to internally contribute more towards the resolution of some of the remaining problems such as Myanmar.

Myanmar is in a tragic sad spot in a region in an organization that is otherwise has a positive impressive record in its 40 years of existence. The longer the problem lingers on, the more it affects ASEAN's credibility and effectiveness in an international arena.

LT: Mr. Prime Minister, what are your views on Pres. Bush's new strategy of sending more troops to Iraq?

PM HORTA: I am not very familiar with the new strategy. I have not had a chance to thoroughly read and analyze it. All I can say is that the Iraqi people deserve a chance. Too many have died. Many millions went to the polls to vote for freedom trusting the international community, trusting democracy, having shown courage and faith in democracy.

Australia, South Korea, Japan and others, Poland that have assisted, the West, diminishing their participation. The so called coalition of the willing have diminished significantly leaving the burden to almost exclusively to the United States and the United Kingdom to some extent Poland.

So it might be too much to ask the American people to shoulder the burden, but I do not believe that any hasty retreat from Iraq now will help stability in the region, will help Iraqi people.

It is obvious that the current strategy has not worked, because obviously there are forces in Iraq who do not want a democratic Iraq to prevail. These are people who have the same agenda like the Taliban in Afghanistan and al-Qaeda and others. You can see what is their agenda and you can see what they want from Iraq.

LT: Thank you very much Mr. Prime Minister and God bless you tremendously!

PM HORTA: God bless you!

[watch the interview at]

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