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UN: Detention of Aung San Suu Kyi illegal

March 24, 2009

According to a legal opinion by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions that has been sent to the Burmese government, the latest renewal of the order to place Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest not only violates international law but also national Burmese law.

The working group said Aung San Suu Kyi is being held under the Burmese  State Protection Law. This law allows renewable arrest orders for a maximum of five years, and for Aung San Suu Kyi, the five-year period ended in May 2008.

According to the Guardian, the UN group has earlier stated that the detention of Aung San Suu Kyi is in violation of international law.  This is, however, the first time the group has cited the junta as failing to abide by its own law.

Shine a light

So far, the military government of Burma has not responded to the legal arguments from the UN group. The junta has a long history of ignoring criticism from the UN and other international bodies,  but it  also resents Burma being regarded as an international pariah. While the ruling from the UN work group will not by itself free Aung San Suu Kyi, it does shine a light on one of the darkest places on earth.

The Democratic Voice of Burma states on its website that the ruling is likely to put pressure not only on Burma, but also on countries that support the Burmese government.

– Let the words of the decision be spread loud and clear, particularly in China, India and within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Dr Agnes Callamard, Executive Director of human rights campaign group ARTICLE 19 said, according to the Oslo-based radio station.

Activist groups are currently attempting to collect 888,888 signatures for a petition calling for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and more than 2,100 other political prisoners. Add your signature at the web site of the Burma campaign UK.

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