UN 'concerned' over Aung San Suu Kyi sentence

The UN Security Council has agreed on a watered-down statement expressing "serious concern" at the extended detention of Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma after a tougher draft met opposition from China, Libya, Russia and Vietnam. After two days of closed-door bargaining, the 15-member body could only agree on a statement expressing "serious concern at the conviction and sentencing of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and its political impact" and reiterating "the importance of the release of all political prisoners."

John Sawers, the British ambassador to the UN and the council chair this month, described the non-binding statement as "an important expression of serious concern about the outcome" of the Suu Kyi trial.A court at Rangoon's notorious Insein Prison on Tuesday sentenced Mrs Suu Kyi to three years' imprisonment and hard labour for breaching the terms of her house arrest following an incident in which a US man swam to her lakeside residence in May.

General Than Shwe, head of the ruling junta, commuted the sentence to 18 months under house arrest but the trial and the verdict have created international outrage.

"I think we all know that different members of the Security Council have different views on the situation there and that the strong views in various Western capitals are not entirely shared in countries elsewhere," Mr Sawers noted as he sought to explain why an initial US draft was watered down.

The tougher US draft which would have condemned Mrs Suu Kyi's conviction ran into opposition from China, a key ally of Burma, as well as from Russia, Vietnam and Libya.

The four countries invoked the principle of non-interference in the domestic affairs of a UN member state.


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