Ban to Burma

Secretary General Ban Ki Moon is en route to Burma/Myanmar to press for the release of Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.  Evelyn Leopold, a long time United Nations correspondent, previews the trip and the political gamble that the Secretary General is undertaking.    Also, see this interview with Foreign Office Minister Ivan Lewis (IL)

IL:  It is a tough mission.  We believe in the man, we believe in his office and we believe if ever there was a test of the United Nations relevance Burma is that test.  That’s why we’ve been strongly supportive of the mission, that’s why we believe he’s doing absolutely the right thing and it’s also why our Prime Minister for example only recently spoke directly to the President of China because it’s very important that Burma’s friends and neighbours also send a clear and strong message about the abuse, human rights abuses, and also about political prisoners.

[Question:]  I suppose the trouble is that the Burmese ruling military junta has not in the past proved very susceptible to international pressure and there has been a lot of pressure on them.

IL:  Well the message via the Secretary General from the international community is that Burma has a choice.  That choice is to continue contravening human rights, to continue imprisoning political prisoners, or to come in to the main stream, to be part of the international community.  And in a sense this mission by the Secretary General is a crucial pivotal moment in the choices that Burma has to make.