Foreign ministers from Asean countries concluded meetings in Vietnam Thursday by calling on the Burmese junta to release pro-democracy leader Suu Kyi.
In a joint statement with the EU, the ministers said Ang San Suu Kyi should be freed from house arrest, where she has spent 13 of the past 19 years.
The joint announcement with the EU was a break from Asean routine, with member countries typically unwilling to get involved in the internal affairs of others.
The ministers called for the early release of those under detention and the lifting of restrictions on political parties.
Burma’s ruling junta rejected the statement, calling Suu Kyi’s case a “legal,” and neither a political nor human rights, issue.
“We don’t accept pressure and interference from abroad,” said Maung Myint, a deputy minister for Burma, also known as Myanmar.
Aung San Suu Kyi received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her non-violent struggle to bring peace and democracy to Burma, which became an Asean member in 1997.
Local Cambodian rights organizations have called for the release of Suu Kyi, and Thailand, currently the head of Asean, has voiced “grave concerns” over her case.