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Indonesia restricts meeting of Myanmar exiles

world Updated: Aug 12, 2009 19:40 IST
Myanmar opposition groups

Indonesia said on Wednesday it had shut down a meeting of exiled Myanmar opposition groups in a move that the activists blamed on pressure from the military junta in Yangon.

Myanmar's self-proclaimed government-in-exile and six pro-democracy alliances were due to hold two days of talks in Jakarta to spearhead a democracy transition plan for the military-ruled country.

The talks were to take place a day after Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi was sentenced to 18 months of further house arrest, on charges of breaching the terms of her confinement.

Organisers said their meeting had been curtailed due to "restrictions by police" and intervention from Yangon.

"Regional politics or ASEAN internal politics (are) as usual taking place... We are very disappointed," Bo Hla Tint, foreign affairs minister for the exiled National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma, wrote in an email.

Foreign ministry spokesman Teuku Faizasyah confirmed that Jakarta had disallowed the meeting despite being aware of "international disappointment" over the situation in Myanmar.

However, Jakarta could not allow a government-in-exile to meet on its territory, Faizasyah said.

"Based on this, the Indonesian police stopped them from organising their planned conference," he said.

Indonesia is a founding member of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and has been criticised for failing to speak out strongly enough against human rights abuses by fellow member Myanmar.

Critics have accused the military junta in Myanmar of convicting Suu Kyi in order to keep her off the scene for next year's polls.

Suu Kyi has been detained for most of the past two decades and was sentenced to another 18 months at her lakeside home in Yangon over a bizarre incident in May when an American man swam to her home uninvited.