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Burmese junta extends detention of Aung San Suu Kyi

May 27, 2008

The Burmese military junta today extended the house arrest of the country’s democratically elected opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.

Aung San Suu Kyi, whose National League for Democracy (NLD) won the 1990 general election, has been detained in her home without trial for 12 of the past 18 years, and continuously since May 2003. According to the Guardian, the house arrest order is renewed annually, and was due to expire at midnight May 27. However, after a delegation from the military regime’s interior ministry visited the Nobel peace laureate at her home on the afternoon of May 27, government officials told reporters that Aung San Suu Kyi’s house arrest order had been extended for another 12-month period.

The junta also stepped up security around Aung San Suu Kyi’s home, and reportedly arrested about 20 NLD members who tried to demonstrate near her house.The activists were pushed into a truck by riot police as they attempted to march from the NLD headquarters.

Lawyers representing Aung San Suu Kyi’s family argued that Burmese law states no one can be held for more than five years without being put on trial , but the Burmese junta has shown time and time again that to them, the law is just a handy tool to be used when they find it convenient, and kept safely locked away in the toolbox when they do not want to apply it.

Hope for the best

Hassan Wirayuda, Indonesia’s foreign minister, called for Aung San Suu Kyi’s release, saying it would be a way of thanking the international community for its generosity after the cyclone Nargis.

-I hope for the best but, to be frank, I’m not optimistic, he stated.

Like Wirayuda, i hope for the best. However, the junta has not taken the helping hand the international community has been reaching out ever since the cyclone disaster. The generals have shown no intention to do anything to thank the international community or even help their own people. On the contrary, despite the disaster, the junta has went ahead with its referendum on a “constitution” dismissed by opponents as a sham which only tightens the military’s grip on power.

Push thy neighbour

Even though I am not very optimistic about Aung San Suu Kyi being released anytime soon, I must commend Wirayuda for speaking out on her behalf. Burma’s south-east Asian neighbours generally tend to act like the three infamous monkeys when it comes to the atrocities going on in Burma. Wirayuda’s statement is a welcome change for the better, and I urge Burma’s other neighbours, especially India and China, to stand up for Aung San Suu Kyi and the people of Burma. The junta has turned a deaf ear to western criticism for four decades. Maybe, just maybe the generals will be more willing to lend an ear to their south-east Asian neighbours?

Map: CIA / Wikimedia commons

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