News / Asia

UN Chief Calls for Burma to Free Political Prisoners

The head of the United Nations has again pressed Burma's military government to release political prisoners to ensure credibility for its elections next month. Ban Ki-moon says the elections are a test for Burma in its progress toward democracy.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says that Burma's November 7 elections need to be transparent and credible.

Mr. Ban spoke to journalists in Bangkok at the start of a four country Asia visit.

"I only hope – sincerely hope that this election will be [an] inclusive and transparent and credible one – that is the expectation of the international community," Mr. Ban said. "The more they signal through concrete actions that this is a departure from business as usual, or status quo, toward more openness, [is] better for the credibility of their country in democratization."

Mr. Ban says how much the new parliament includes different segments of society will signal the success of the election in Burma, also known as Myanmar.

"It will be even more important after the election how inclusive a government they will form as a result of the election reflecting the wishes and will of the people." He added. "That will be a test of the Myanmar government, how they will be able to meet this expectation of the international community."

The secretary-general appealed to Burma's government to release all political prisoners.

"It is not too late, even now, that by releasing the political detainees, they [Burma's leaders] can make this election more inclusive and participatory," Mr. Ban said.

Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is under house arrest and cannot vote in the polls. Her National League for Democracy party was ordered disbanded after it refused to expel her and other members in prison.

The NLD won the last election, 20 years ago, but the military never allowed the party to take office. Instead, most of its leaders were jailed.

Rights activists say Burma still holds more than 2,000 political prisoners.

Many human-rights groups, Burmese exiles and several governments call the elections a sham. The military is guaranteed a quarter of the seats in parliament, and election laws restrict campaigning by opposition candidates.

Mr. Ban is headed to Cambodia. He then goes to Vietnam for a summit meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. After that, he travels to China.

You May Like

Photogallery Pakistani Offensive Empties Largest Town in North Waziristan

Army commander says troops have found about a dozen bomb-making facilities, underground network of tunnels; troops must clear huge amount of IEDs More

Video Israel, Hamas Trade Blame, Dig in

Both sides blame each other for provoking conflict, neither side at this point is ready to back down More

US: Cooperation with Germany Important Despite Spying Fallout

Refusing to comment on 'purported intelligence matter', White House spokeswoman says administration 'will continue to be in touch with German government in appropriate channels' More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Restored Papyrus Swamps Can Help Fight Pollution, Conserve Wateri
X
Faiza Elmasry
July 10, 2014 5:18 PM
Papyrus is a light but strong reed that grows well in shallow, fresh water. The plant stood at the center of the ancient Egyptian civilization. It was used as paper and the reed's shape inspired the fluted columns of ancient Greece. Most of the papyrus swamps gradually disappeared from Egypt and other parts of Africa. As VOA's Faiza Elmasry discovered, though, restoring the papyrus swamps could hold the key to solve many of today’s problems, from pollution to water wars. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Restored Papyrus Swamps Can Help Fight Pollution, Conserve Water

Papyrus is a light but strong reed that grows well in shallow, fresh water. The plant stood at the center of the ancient Egyptian civilization. It was used as paper and the reed's shape inspired the fluted columns of ancient Greece. Most of the papyrus swamps gradually disappeared from Egypt and other parts of Africa. As VOA's Faiza Elmasry discovered, though, restoring the papyrus swamps could hold the key to solve many of today’s problems, from pollution to water wars. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Virginia Site Tests Drones for FAA Rules

Blacksburg, a college town in southwestern Virginia, is one of six locations chosen by the FAA - the Federal Aviation Administration - to test drones. Researchers are sending feedback to the FAA as the agency develops national drone regulations. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti traveled to the town to check what’s up in the air there.
Video

Video Israel, Hamas Trade Blame, Dig in

The military conflict between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist militant group that rules the Gaza Strip, continues to escalate. As VOA’s Brian Padden reports, both sides blame each other for provoking the conflict and neither side at this point is ready to back down.
Video

Video Civilians Fear Mideast Violence Could Turn Into Full-Scale War

Violence in the Middle East is escalating at a time when there are no new peace talks in sight. Israeli and Palestinian leaders have condemned the brutal deaths of three Israeli teenagers and one Palestinian teen, and have vowed to punish those responsible. But both sides also seem to be gearing up for more fighting. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video African-born Pastor Brings ‘Holy Laughter’ Revival to Washington

A South African-born televangelist based in Florida has brought his ministry to Washington for a three-week event he is calling “Celebrate America.” Rodney Howard-Browne is calling for a religious revival in the United States. But as VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports, his preaching style is far from mainstream.
Video

Video American Roadside Attraction 'Dinosaur Land' Lures Visitors

A big part of the American landscape of the middle 20th century was the roadside attraction - small zoos, amusement parks or quirky museums along the highways families traveled on their way to vacation destinations. Most of those attractions are gone, but one in Virginia, a couple of hours from Washington, called Dinosaur Land, is still going strong.
Video

Video Burma Football Friendly Brings Together Battlefield Opponents

As most of Myanmar’s ethnic armies maintain a fragile ceasefire with the government, some of the troops were able to let off a little steam, World Cup - style. Steve Sandford reports from Karen State, Myanmar, also known as Burma, on a peace initiative aimed at building trust between the opposing sides of one of the world’s longest-running conflicts.
Video

Video FIFA’s Football for Hope Tournament Kicks Off in Brazil

As excitement builds toward the final matches of football's (soccer's) World Cup, another competition has kicked-off in Brazil. The Football for Hope Festival brings together underprivileged young people from around the world for an event that is less about winning than about enjoying the game and one another. Scott Bobb reports from Rio de Janeiro.

AppleAndroid