– VOA News
Leaders of Asian and European countries are urging Burma’s military rulers to release political prisoners in advance of next month’s elections.
The statement was issued Tuesday at the end of the Asia-Europe summit in Brussels. It said the release of the detainees would make the November 7 elections “more inclusive, participatory and transparent.”
Recent news accounts say there are about 2,200 political prisoners being held in Burma.
The leaders called for their release as part of a “chair’s statement,” which meant it did not require the approval of Burma, a summit participant.
The Asian and European leaders did not specifically mention Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the pro-democracy forces in Burma who has been held by the government for 15 of the last 21 years.
The government declared her National League for Democracy illegal after it failed to register for the election in May.
Tuesday’s statement urged the Burmese government to talk to all parties in the country. It said having a free and fair election would help create “a legitimate, constitutional, civilian system of government.”
Burma’s election, its first since 1990, has been widely criticized by Western governments as an attempt to put a civilian face on continued military rule.