Elders leave empty chair as Aung San Suu Kyi turns 65

A group of global statesmen founded by Nelson Mandela urged Myanmar`s neighbours on Thursday to boost pressure on the reclusive state, to mark democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi`s 65th birthday.

Updated: Jun 17, 2010, 23:35 PM IST

Johannesburg: A group of global statesmen
founded by Nelson Mandela urged Myanmar`s neighbours on Thursday to
boost pressure on the reclusive state, to mark democracy icon
Aung San Suu Kyi`s 65th birthday.

The Elders, who include former United Nations
secretary-general Kofi Annan, ex US president Jimmy Carter and
South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, made the appeal after
leaving a seat symbolically empty for Aung Sang Suu Kyi at a
meeting in South Africa.
Elections are planned in the southeast Asian country for
the end of this year, but critics have dismissed them as a
sham due to laws that have effectively barred Aung San Suu Kyi
from participating.

"National processes in Burma have been usurped by the
military government -- they do not serve the people. The
elections due later this year will not be any different," said
Elders chairman Tutu.
"With such deep fractures in society, the country needs
an avenue for dialogue. Without a way to talk and reconcile
with one another, the people will never achieve the peace and
prosperity they deserve," he added.

At a recent meeting in Johannesburg, the Elders kept an
empty chair draped in Burmese silk to symbolise the absence of
"Aung San Suu Kyi and Burma`s thousands of political
prisoners."

PTI