Myanmar has warned Aung San Suu Kyi, the pro-democracy dissident who spent seven years under house arrest, to halt her political activities, as she plans a tour across the country next month.
Suu Kyi was freed seven months ago, and has publicly questioned whether Myanmar has actively made progress toward democracy since flawed elections last November.
She recently received a letter from the home affairs ministry, saying that her political party is acting illegally by having meetings, issuing statements, and maintaining party offices.
“Myanmar tells Suu Kyi to halt political activities,” The Straits Times, 30 Jun 2011.
The last time she toured the country in 2003, Suu Kyi’s followers were attacked by government supporters, resulting in a number of deaths, as well as her arrest and subsequent detention.
This government announcement comes less than a year after Myanmar held its first national elections in two decades, in which candidates with military ties won nearly all important government positions. Western observers, as well as Ms. Suu Kyi, have called the elections a sham.
The government is frustrated with Ms. Suu Kyi’s continued political work, as well as that of her party, despite its refusal to participate in last year’s elections. Still, the government has expressed its desire to have economic sanctions against it lifted, and the US has said that Ms. Suu Kyi’s ability to travel freely will play a role in the decision to end them.
“Myanmar warns Suu Kyi ahead of tour,” Wall Street Journal, 29 Jun 2011.
Additionally, human rights groups accuse Myanmar of holding more than 2000 political “prisoners of conscience,” who the US and other western nations say must be freed as a precondition for easing of sanctions.
This government announcement comes a week after Suu Kyi addressed US Congress by video, asking them to establish a commission to investigate Myanmar’s human rights abuses and urging them to support democratic reforms in the country. She also called for UN human rights envoy Tomas Ojea Quintana to be allowed to visit Myanmar,
“Suu Kyi urges Congress to push Myanmar democracy,” AP, 22 Jun 2011.