Czech EU presidency threatens increased sanctions against Burma as Suu Kyi tried

The Czech EU presidency said on Monday the EU would consider increasing its sanctions against the Burmese regime after the junta put opposition icon Aung San Suu Kyi on trial. Speaking ahead of a meeting of foreign ministers in Brussels, Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout said the EU would first call on the Burmese authorities to release Aung San Suu Kyi and go forward with sanctions if the appeal went unanswered. In view of the restricted impact of such sanctions the EU wants to try to persuade other states, particularly China, to also apply pressure. The matter is expected to be brought up at an EU-Chinese summit in Prague this Wednesday.

On Friday the former Czech president Václav Havel urged UN chief Ban Ki-moon to use his authority to secure the release of pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi. In an open letter published by the čtk news agency, Mr. Havel called on the UN chief to personally intervene in the matter in order to prevent a show trial. The 72-year-old playwright, dissident and hero of the 1989 Velvet Revolution, said many people in Burma were in need of help since the junta had imprisoned more than 2,100 political detainees.

Aung San Suu Kyi, 63, is facing five years in jail on charges of breaching the terms of her house arrest after a bizarre incident in which a US man swam to her off-limits lakeside house in the capital Yangon.

Author: Rosie Johnston