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United Nations Envoy In Burma

This month, Ibrahim Gambari, the United Nations Under Secretary-General for Political Affairs, visited Burma, also known as Myanmar. Mr. Gambari traveled there to encourage progress toward a transition to democratic rule.

Mr. Gambari met with representatives of Burma's National League for Democracy party, or N-L-D, including Aung San Suu Kyi. In 1990, the N-L-D won parliamentary elections but the Burmese military regime refused to recognize the results. A winner of the Nobel peace prize, Aung San Suu Kyi has been under house arrest for eleven of the past seventeen years. She reportedly complained to Mr. Gambari of inadequate access to medical care. But Mr. Gambari says Aung San Suu Kyi welcomes the U-N's commitment to human rights in Burma:

"She is very alert. She is concerned not just about her own welfare but the welfare of the people of Myanmar, all of them, and also, of course, the contribution that her party, the N.L.D., and others can make to peace, development, democracy and enjoyment of human rights."

In addition to its blocking of the democratic process and imprisonment of key opposition figures, the regime's more vicious policies include attacks against ethnic minorities, including the Shan and Karen. These attacks and repression are resulting in hundreds of thousands of displaced persons and refugees, thousands of child soldiers, large-scale narcotics and human trafficking, and the unimpeded spread of communicable diseases such as H-I-V/AIDS. It has also placed unreasonable restrictions on the work of humanitarian groups like the International Committee of the Red Cross, making it impossible to get aid to those in most need.

In September, at the request of the U.S., the U-N Security Council placed the situation in Burma on its agenda. The U.S. intends to seek a non-punitive U-N Security Council resolution that would call on the regime to cooperate with Mr. Gambari’s efforts and take tangible steps toward a transition to democratic rule.

President George W. Bush says, "The people of Burma live in the darkness of tyranny -- but the light of freedom shines in their hearts. They want their liberty -- and one day, they will have it."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.