Britain wants further targeted international financial sanctions to increase pressure on Myanmar to free opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners, a minister said on Thursday.
Suu Kyi, who turns 64 on Friday, is on trial for allegedly violating the terms of her house arrest.
Her trial, set to resume on June 26, has angered Britain and other Western countries, which say it is aimed at excluding her from elections next year.
Foreign Office Minister Ivan Lewis said the European Union would consider further sanctions against Myanmar’s military government once Suu Kyi’s trial was over.
“We (Britain) continue to believe that further targeted financial sanctions would increase pressure on the regime,” he told reporters.
In April, the EU extended visa bans and asset freezes on officials and firms linked to Myanmar’s rulers for another year, citing human rights and democracy concerns.
Suu Kyi faces three to five years in prison if found guilty of breaking the terms of her house arrest by letting an American intruder stay for two days after he swam to her home in May.
Lewis said Suu Kyi was being tried on “ridiculous and bogus trumped-up charges.” Britain wants U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to visit Myanmar soon after the trial is over, Lewis said.
Ban’s mission would be to send “very strong messages about what we require of the Burmese (Myanmar) regime if there is to be any prospect in the future of an easing of sanctions and any kind of normalisation of international relations.”
Britain wants all political prisoners freed and political reforms leading to a civilian, democratic government.
Western diplomats at the United Nations said this week that Myanmar’s rulers had invited Ban to visit in early July.
The British ambassador to Myanmar, Mark Canning, speaking by video link from Yangon, said there was no doubt Suu Kyi would be found guilty, and that she would probably be sentenced to a further period of house arrest, rather than sent to jail.
He said the trial has been a disaster for the Myanmar government by raising Suu Kyi’s profile.
Countries such as Singapore and Thailand were saying that investment from their countries would not flow to Myanmar until the situation was more stable, he said.
Suu Kyi has been detained for more than 13 of the last 19 years. Myanmar’s junta has refused to recognise a 1990 landslide election victory by her National League for Democracy.