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Posts Tagged ‘detention

Suu Kyi comment “misunderstood”

Online edition of India’s National Newspaper
Tuesday, Jul 22, 2008
ePaper | Mobile/PDA Version


Suu Kyi comment “misunderstood”

P. S. Suryanarayana

SINGAPORE: The release of Myanmar’s celebrated democracy campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest in Yangon is not on the cards until almost the end of next year.

Myanmar’s Foreign Minister Nyan Win had on Sunday made a comment, which was taken for a clear hint that Ms. Suu Kyi might be set free in about six months.

At the annual ministerial meeting of the ASEAN here on Monday, Mr. Nyan Win said his ASEAN colleagues had “misunderstood” his remark. He said the limit for detaining the Noble Peace Laureate would not end in six months. ASEAN Chair and Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo summed up Myanmar’s position as: “The limit will be reached six months from May 2009, which is the expiry of the existing one-year detention order.”

Ms. Suu Kyi has been in detention one way or another since her electoral triumph in 1990. The latest phase began in 2002, when she, in a brief period of freedom, rallied people.

The political situation in Myanmar was among the issues that figured in the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ meeting on Monday.



Q: What was the Myanmar Foreign Minister’s reply to the call by his ASEAN colleagues for Aung San Suu Kyi’s release?

Minister: Well he explained that under their law, the maximum period of detention for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is one year as approved by the Home Minister and five more years as approved by the Prime Minister as a cabinet decision, meaning a maximum of 6 years, and he told us that the 6-year limit will come up in about half a year’s time.

Q: You said that the Myanmar Minister was telling you that the detention would end in about half a year’s time, does that mean that Aung San Suu Kyi will be released after the end of the six years?

Minister: I’m just repeating what he told me, but I think that is not an inaccurate inference.

Q: But were the ASEAN ministers satisfied with that explanation?

Minister: On Myanmar, we have long taken a position which we knew did not have the full agreement of the Myanmar Foreign Minister. We understand the position he is in, and we agreed that in my statement to you, I should mention by name, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

July 22, 2008 at 5:00 am

World focus on Burma (19 June 2008)

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Cindy McCain visits Vietnam

USA Today –

She has visited Burma — also known as Myanmar — twice. “It’s just a terrible group of people that rule the country, and the frightening part is that their …

World Refugee Day brings cultural events and a ‘celebration of …, ID –

Her office has received a consistent stream of Karen people from Myanmar (formerly Burma), the largest group of new arrivals, along with ethnic Nepalis from …

Brown, Sarkozy urge immediate release of Suu Kyi

Hindu, India –

Their letter rebuked the military regime in Myanmar, also known as Burma, for failing to take up sufficient offers of aid. Sarkozy and Brown criticized the …

One monk and three activists arrested by USDA members, India –

Chiang Mai – Members of the ‘Union Solidarity and Development Association’ (USDA) raided the National League for Democracy (NLD) party headquarters where …

NLD Members Arrested at Suu Kyi Birthday Celebration

The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand –

In this photo released by the Democratic Voice of Burma, Buddhist monks and nuns along with members of the NLD and supporters of pro-democracy leader Aung …

Burmese militia attacks Suu Kyi supporters, UK –

Pro-government militias in Burma today beat and detained protesters calling for the release of the pro-democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, …

12 detained in Myanmar on Suu Kyi’s birthday

The Associated Press –

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Myanmar’s ruling military junta detained 12 opposition party members who called for the release of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu …

Arrested: Volunteers Who Bury the Dead

The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand –

Two of those arrested, Lin Htet Naing and Hnin Pwint Wei, are leading members of the All Burma Federation of Students’ Unions. They went into hiding last …

Salt Shortage Adds to Post-Nargis Woes

The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand –

By LAWI WENG / SANGKHLABURI Amid worries that Burma’s food security could be at risk if farmers in the cyclone-ravaged Irrawaddy delta don’t start planting …

Rice Accuses Regime of ‘Backtracking’ on Suu Kyi Pledges

The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand –

“Rather than risking further unrest in Burma by its unjustified detention of political prisoners and its holding of a rigged referendum in May on a sham …

12 detained after Suu Kyi protest

The Press Association –

… courage and dedication to your people. Your release from house arrest and your freedom to participate in Burma’s political future remain essential.”

Doubting donors withhold Myanmar aid

Asia Times Online, Hong Kong –

The junta’s concession to allow increased access for aid workers and relief shipments came at the end of a three-day mission to Myanmar by UN secretary …

Monks call on EU to bring junta leader to trial, Italy –

Yangon (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The All Burma Monks’ Alliance has called on the European Union to bring charges against strongman Than Shwe before the …

Scientists Fighting Disease with Climate Forecasts

The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand –

By RANDOLPH E SCHMID / AP WRITER / WASHINGTON A cyclone wrecks coastal Burma, spawning outbreaks of malaria, cholera and dengue fever. …

Brown and Sarkozy say freedom for Aung San Suu Kyi is “essential”

Monsters and –

… longer term reconstruction in Myanmar. ‘The success of the international effort will rely on the actions and conditions set by the Government of Burma,’ …

Ireland: Minister for Foreign Affairs Hosts Launch of Human Rights …

ISRIA (subscription), DC –

The launch was co-organised with Burma Action Ireland, and was attended by Dr Thuang Htun, the Representative for UN Affairs of the Burmese …

The Movie List

Vancouver Sun,  Canada –

MYSTIC BALL, Burma Cyclone Relief Fundraiser, Winner Most Popular Canadian Feature VIFF 06 – The story of filmmaker Greg Hamilton’s journey deep into the …

Burma junta gang hits Suu Kyi birthday rally

Mail & Guardian Online, South Africa –

Pro-junta thugs broke up a rally by supporters of Burma democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi on Thursday, detaining three people among a crowd chanting for her …

UK and France press for Burmese democracy

10 Downing Street (press release), UK –

Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy have called for immediate democratic reform in Burma, and the release of pro-democracy activist Aung San …

Did Nargis Baptize Asean?

The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand –

The Asean chief’s hard work since the catastrophic cyclone slammed Burma’s delta region in early May is to be recognized, but not the self-congratulatory …

Myanmar monks urge EU to bring junta to war crimes court

EUbusiness (press release), UK –

The All Burma Monks’ Alliance, which claims to have organised mass protests against the regime last September, said Than Shwe should face trial for blocking …

World Refugee Day at a Glance: Where is the Promised Land?

New Liberian, Minnesota –

In Myanmar (Burma) the military junta led by 75-year old Than Shwe continued to crack down on dissidents. The junta suppressed widespread protests led by …

Myanmar’s pro-democracy leader marks 63rd birthday

The Associated Press –

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Myanmar’s detained, pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi marked her 63rd birthday by offering yellow roses Thursday at Yangon’s …

Suu Kyi supporters make solemn offerings on her birthday


YANGON (AFP) — Supporters of Myanmar’s detained democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi made solemn offerings to Buddhist monks early Thursday as they marked her …

Burma’s Suu Kyi celebrates birthday in detention

Radio Australia, Australia –

Under Myanmar’s State Protection Law, a person can be held without charge or trial for only up to five years, renewable for up to one year at a time. …

Asia Beat: Jun 18 08

The Asian Pacific Post, Canada –

Mogok, about 1000 km north of Yangon, is the source of the former Burma’s famed “pigeon’s blood” rubies, said to be the world’s finest. …

US marks Aung San Suu Kyi’s birthday, deplores her arrest

Straits Times, Singapore –

… political and civil rights by Burma’s military rulers,’ US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Wednesday, using Myanmar’s former name. …

Unpopular Politics

NeoConstant Journal of Politics and Foreign Affairs, AZ –

It is about denouncing the genocide in Darfur, the oppression in Burma, the human rights violations all across the globe. Force can be necessary to maintain …

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi

Asian Tribune, Thailand –

… the crises overloading the shoulders of the people of Burma. UN Human Rights Commissioner Ms. Louise Arbor said on June 2, 2008 “in the case of Myanmar, …

Suu Kyi still in eye of the storm as junta bungles cyclone relief

The National, United Arab Emirates –

For the people of Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, trampled for more than 40 years by a repressive military regime, Dr Suu Kyi represents their aspirations …

Recipes for success

South China Morning Post (subscription), Hong Kong –

“My father is a refugee from Burma [Myanmar], and so am I,” says Ip Veng Va. “We came to Macau in 1976 and two years later we opened this small noodle shop. …

Coming to America

Park Record, UT –

Burma, also known as Myanmar, has been under the thumb of a militant government accused of suppressing dissent and violating human rights for many years. …

Burma (Myanmar) boots medics, citing no need

Christian Science Monitor, MA –

Bangkok, Thailand – Having led Thailand’s first medical mission last month to cyclone-ravaged Burma (Myanmar), Pichit Siriwan, a doctor, was on standby for …

Burmese farmers face rice shortage

The Press Association –

A United Nations agency has warned that time is running out to help Burma’s cyclone-stricken farmers plant rice for the next growing season. …

Myanmar junta extends Suu Kyi’s detention, earns international …

IBTimes India, CA –

“Myanmar [Burma] is not the only country that promulgates laws to prevent those who pose danger to the State,” it said. “If necessary to guard the …

Is God a cosmic monster?

Houston County News, MN –

CS Lewis In Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, the death toll from a killer cyclone stands at 78000, with 56000 people still missing. …

The US Must Do More for Burma

Huffington Post, NY –

According to the state-run New Light of Myanmar, this suspicious outcome has “washed away” the 1990 election result. It is deeply regrettable that both Ban …

Unseen Burma: An aid worker’s story

BBC News, UK –

By Dr Chris van Tulleken Finally we were on our way. I looked out the helicopter window and reflected on the last three weeks working in Rangoon. …

Churches still offering aid to cyclone victims

Lebanon Daily News, PA –

… they may go directly to or write to Church World Service, Burma Recovery Relief, …

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

June 18, 2008 at 10:05 pm

World focus on Burma (12 June 2008)

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Providing refuge after the storm: Cyclone survivors in Myanmar …
Church World Service (press release), IN –
Like many in Myanmar (Burma), the road to recovery will be long and arduous for Hnin, Tin Sien, his baby girl and the 240 people in their village who also …
Myanmar: General asked to quit for son’s drug trade
Merinews, India –
In a rare instance, the Myanmar Army general whose son was arrested for dealing in drugs was asked to quit. The order to resign came from Myanmar’s military …
Drop ’em!
Nor’Wester, Canada –
You’ve heard of Myanmar? I hadn’t, not in school. In school we learned about Burma, although not much. We were too busy learning about the little African …
Myanmar state media defends Suu Kyi house arrest extension into …
[JURIST] Myanmar law allows the continued detention of pro-democracy party leader Aung San Suu Kyi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], the government-run …
Satellites confirm Ethiopia destruction – US group
Reuters South Africa, South Africa –
AAAS has used satellite images to support reports of widespread abuses in Myanmar, Zimbabwe, Burma, Chad and the Darfur region of Sudan. …
Daw Suu awarded the freedom of Dundee
Democratic Voice of Burma, Norway –
Jun 12, 2008 (DVB)–Burma’s pro-democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is to be awarded the freedom of the Scottish city of Dundee, it was announced on Monday …
USDA joins cyclone efforts to boost image
Democratic Voice of Burma, Norway –
The state-run New Light of Myanmar newspaper reported that 264 youth members of the USDA would carry out reconstruction tasks in cyclone-hit areas of …
NLD members made to sign agreement
Democratic Voice of Burma, Norway –
Jun 12, 2008 (DVB)–One of 15 National League for Democracy members freed from detention on Monday said they had to sign a document before their release …
Nargis disrupts Myanmar’s planting season
Radio Netherlands, Netherlands –
By our reporter in Myanmar A brace of tail-wiggling piglets squeal and grunt as they push each other aside to reach their mother’s teats. …
Pyapon’s Economy in Ruins
The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand –
In an official statement, the Myanmar [Burma] Fisheries Federation said that a total of 17876 fishermen were killed in Burma by the cyclone and another 9612 …
‘Turn Around and Go Back to Yangon’
ABC News – 2
Myanmar, also known as Burma, was hammered by Cylone Nargis some five weeks ago. The reclusive junta that governs this impoverished nation has been …
Minister Power announces airlift of humanitarian aid to Burma
ReliefWeb (press release), Switzerland –
Kildare – to Burma/ Myanmar for the victims of Cyclone Nargis. This cargo of plastic sheeting for temporary shelter, blankets, mosquito nets, jerry cans and …
As donors disappear, cyclone survivors fend for themselves
ReliefWeb (press release), Switzerland –
Bar Ku, a local donor in Bogalay, explained: ‘In Burma, it is not possible for citizens to feed one another for a long time. Everybody has to struggle for …
Myanmar to leader to resign
OpEdNews, PA –
They often visited Thailand and Singapore for alleged drug trafficking. Several film stars in Burma were also taken into custody.
Local airman flew 1st US relief to Myanmar
Toledo Blade, OH –
For the next two days, the storm battered and flooded huge swaths of Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, Thailand’s neighbor to the northwest. …
CampaignWatch – June 2008
Ethical Corporation Magazine, UK –
Chevron became a co-owner of the pipeline, along with French oil giant Total and the Burmese junta-owned Myanmar Oil & Gas Enterprises, when it bought …
Ask a question about Burma
Labour Party, UK –
Next week Meg Munn, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Foreign Office will be answering your questions about Burma. Please post your comments and …
More disasters for Myanmar
Tulsa Beacon, Tulsa –
Myanmar’s (formerly Burma) military dictatorship has prevented aid relief from reaching its 2.4 million cyclone victims but allowed delivery of condoms to …
Diseases common in cyclone-hit areas but ‘no outbreak’: MSF, India –
Meanwhile, Burma’s military rulers said “So far, there has been no outbreak of contagious disease and epidemic in the cyclone-affected areas,” as the …
ACN: more than 100000 euros for Nargis victims in Myanmar, Italy –
With this contribution, the total amount of aid sent by ACN the former Burma amounts to 110000 euros. The archbishop of Yangon, Charles Bo, explains that is …
Burma: One million survivors not yet reached
Human Rights Tribune, Switzerland –
Since the Cyclone Nargis struck on May 3 the military regime in Burma, or Myanmar, has issued 180 visas for UN staffers to enter the South-east Asian …
Aung San Suu Kyi deserves flogging like ‘naughty child’: Junta, India – o
The junta listing Malaysia, Singapore, US and Britain as countries that apply anti-terror laws said, “Myanmar [Burma] is not the only country that …
Dalai distances himself from Sharon’s comment
Daily News & Analysis, India –
“Tragedy in Tibet, tragedy in Burma (Myanmar), tragedy in China, all this is karmic … but her particular sort of comment — that I don’t know,” winner of …
Myanmar: Cost of rice still increasing
ReliefWeb (press release), Switzerland –
A representative from Champion rice warehouses told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday that Pawsan Mwe, Burma’s highest quality long-grain rice, had shot up in …
Disaster standards needed in Asia
ReliefWeb (press release), Switzerland –
The recent earthquake in China, the cyclone in Burma, and the slow onset famine in North Korea have all brought to the fore the absence of agreed upon …
Africa: Continent, Failed States And Purpose of Government, Washington –
In Myanmar or Burma, the government, an outright failure, did the same in the recent disaster that hit the country. The same is happening in Zimbabwe. …
Asean workshop warned against overly ambitious human rights body
Nation Multimedia, Thailand –
Burma’s bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in September overshadowed the November summit. It threatens to haunt the next meeting as well, …
Freedom of Dundee for Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi
Glasgow Daily Record, UK –
The honour from Dundee City Council will be accepted on her behalf in September by the director of the Burma Campaign UK.
Intelligence officials assigned to keep eye on TCG, India –
More than a month after the cyclone lashed Burma on May 2 and 3, leaving 133000 dead or missing, the United Nations estimates that more than one million …
ASEAN team gains ‘full access’ to Burma
Sydney Morning Herald, Australia –
Southeast Asian and UN experts will have full access to cyclone-devastated parts of Burma, where more than a million people have still not received any …
Rainy season further threatens Myanmar
Indian Catholic, India –
… that there are still thousands of people affected by the hurricane, still needing help, and he called on the world not to forget the people of Burma.
Burma Red Tape Delays Cyclone Aid, Agencies S
The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand –
By AP / RANGOON Ten thousand pregnant women among Burma’s estimated 2.4 million cyclone survivors are in urgent need of proper care, a UN official said …
Ten WFP Helicopters Fail to Bring Enough Aid
The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand –
“We explained to them that the ICRC assistance is relatively limited to some specific areas in support of the Myanmar [Burma] Red Cross. …
In the calm before the storm, New Zealand –
Myanmar has been under a brutal military dictatorship since 1962. The country’s name was officially changed from Burma to Myanmar in 1989 by the State Peace …
Myanmar Generals Should be Tried for Cyclone Victims Genocide …
OpEdNews, PA –
The UN could not do anything for Burma. They could not count even the deaths after last September’s uprising. Since then we have deeply disappointed by the …
RI running out of time to play key role in Myanmar
Jakarta Post, Indonesia –
A month after Cyclone Nargis hit Myanmar, more than one million people severely affected by the storm have yet to receive any food, water, or shelter, …
Burma still struggling 40 days after cyclone
Radio Australia, Australia –
Craig Strathern from the International Committee for the Red Cross in Myanmar says the doors are starting to open. STRATHERN: In the past week we have been …
MAP International provides medical aid to devastated Myanmar – 11 …
ReliefWeb (press release), Switzerland –
Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, is one of the poorest countries in Asia. According to the World Food Program, about five million people in Myanmar lack …
Global Community Of
Black Star News, NY –
… and Russia in the United Nations Security Council, who have blocked intervention of various sorts in places like Zimbabwe, Darfur and Myanmar (Burma). …
Warsawan Returns From Myanmar, Says Cyclone Survivors Still At Risk
Times-Union Newspaper, IN –
Joe Wilkey, executive director of World Compassion Network, a Warsaw-based relief organization, recently returned from Myanmar (Burma). …
Suu Kyi should be beaten says junta
Metro, UK –
By contrast, Burma’s ruling generals – recently criticised over the response to the deadly cyclone – were ‘the parent of the people’ and had exercised …
Rainy Season Further Threatens Myanmar
Zenit News Agency, Italy –
Cyclone-devastated regions of Myanmar stand to lose the little shelter that remains as the rainy season brings torrential downfalls. …
Author: “End of Food” Maybe Near
I mean you can look at the dysfunction in Myanmar, formally Burma, or you can look at, you know, distribution problems in sub-Saharan Africa. …
MaximsNews Network, NY –
Question: Okay, one question about Burma. There are credible reports from the ground that aid does not reach the hard-hit area and that the monks and others …
Nu Image/Millennium Breaking Three Musketeers Out of Mothballs
Rotten Tomatoes, CA –
I also liked how the setting was Myanmar (previously Burma). Maybe he can do Rambo in Sudan, as that country is going to be a giant bag of suck for a while.
UN: 10000 pregnant women need care in Burma
USA Today –
Rangoon, Burma (AP) — Ten thousand pregnant cyclone survivors are in urgent need of proper care in Burma, a UN expert said Wednesday, as relief agencies …
Volunteers send aid through Burma’s (Myanmar’s) back door
Christian Science Monitor, MA –
No, Ms. Finke elected to fly here June 11 to join a grassroots effort for cyclone relief and civil empowerment for Burma (Myanmar), run by the father of her …
BURMA: One Million Survivors Not Yet Reached – UN
Inter Press Service (subscription), Italy –
Since the Cyclone Nargis struck on May 3 the military regime in Burma, or Myanmar, has issued 180 visas for UN staffers to enter the South-east Asian …
Today’s Overview of Leading News & Views – 11 June 2008
Israel Hasbara Committee (subscription), NY –
… recent weather catastrophes that have wiped out rice fields in Myanmar (Burma), or the virulent wheat disease now infecting crops in Iran as well as in …
… identified as Tan Zhiwei and Tan Zhiman were originally involved in setting up a gambling organisation in Myanmar (Burma) and then branched out into …
Xola Consulting to Share Adventure Tourism Insights at Yunnan …
Newswire Today (press release), UK –
… markets around the world including Central and South America, North Africa and Southeast Asia, including Cambodia, Myanmar (Burma), India and Nepal.
Burma will not face food-shortage: Junta minister, India –
The Burmese junta’s official mouthpiece, the New Light of Myanmar, on Wednesday quoted the Minister of National Planning and Economic Development U Soe Tha, …
NLD says new constitution null and void, India –
It is the presentation of our position to the people in Burma and also to the international community including the UN which observed the referendum to see …

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

June 12, 2008 at 4:37 am

Burma: updated top news (12 June 2008)

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The Southern Ledger

UN: 35000 pregnant women need care in Myanmar

The Associated Press –

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) – Up to 35000 pregnant cyclone survivors are in urgent need of proper care in Myanmar, a UN expert said Wednesday, as relief agencies again raised concerns about the junta’s willingness to accept foreign aid.

Myanmar red tape delays cyclone aid, agencies say International Herald Tribune
Burma says no tax taken from aid The Press Association
The Associated Press
all 166 news articles »

National Post

UN’s Myanmar appeal only 44 percent funded

The Associated Press –
YANGON, Myanmar (AP) – The United Nations says it has raised less than half of its goal for relief operations in Myanmar more than five weeks after a cyclone devastated the country. The UN says it set out to raise $201 million but so far has gotten …
UN official says pregnant Myanmar cyclone victims in urgent need … International Herald Tribune
Myanmar Cyclone Disaster Appeal Is Only 40% Funded, UN Says Bloomberg
Los Angeles TimesAFPToledo BladeWall Street Journal
all 1,701 news articles »

RI running out of time to play key role in Myanmar

Jakarta Post –

A month after Cyclone Nargis hit Myanmar, more than one million people severely affected by the storm have yet to receive any food, water, or shelter, and the so-called “second wave” of dying from disease, thirst, and hunger has begun in earnest.

Myanmar says detention of democracy leader legal The Associated Press

Burma’s Suu Kyi deserves to be flogged: junta ABC Online

ReutersNew York

all 344 news articles »

Christian Science Monitor

Volunteers send aid through Burma’s (Myanmar’s) back door

Christian Science Monitor –

No, Ms. Finke elected to fly here June 11 to join a grassroots effort for cyclone relief and civil empowerment for Burma (Myanmar), run by the father of her friend who was calling to urge her to come. For most volunteers hoping to help, Burma seems …

Six Weeks After Cyclone, Burma Devastation Remains Uncertain Voice of America

In Burma, A Crime for Civil Society to Provide Relief? AlterNet

Mizzima.comUSA TodayToronto StarChristian Science Monitor

all 166 news articles »

All American Patriots (press release)

Burma still struggling 40 days after cyclone

Radio Australia –
Craig Strathern from the International Committee for the Red Cross in Myanmar says the doors are starting to open. STRATHERN: In the past week we have been fortunate enough to have a number of our own staff – both locally employed and expatriate …
Canada donation helps speed up Burma aid
BURMA: One Million Survivors Not Yet Reached – UN Inter Press Service (subscription)
Mizzima.comVoice of AmericaRTE.ieRadio Australia
all 74 news articles »

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

June 12, 2008 at 4:30 am

Military rulers silent on Suu Kyi’s detention deadline as donors gather in Myanmar

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The Associated Press

Published: May 25, 2008

BANGKOK, Thailand: The deadline for pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s house arrest expires this week, but Myanmar’s military rulers remained silent about her fate Sunday as international donors pushed politics aside to help suffering cyclone victims.

The detention of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Suu Kyi has been at the center of friction between the secretive junta and many countries around the world, who have tirelessly campaigned for her release. She was last put under house arrest in May 2003, and the term has been renewed every year since.

But this year’s deadline comes at a critical point. Under Myanmar law, no one can be held longer than five years without being released or put on trial, said U.S. lawyer Jared Genser, hired by Suu Kyi’s family to push for her release.

It remained unclear what action, if any, the regime would take as the world focuses on the Southeast Asian country still reeling from Cyclone Nargis. The storm killed 78,000 people three weeks ago and left another 2.4 million people homeless and facing hunger and disease.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and representatives from 50 nations met Sunday for a one-day fundraising conference in Myanmar’s biggest city, Yangon. The donors have agreed, at least for now, to focus on the humanitarian relief effort.

“We must think about people just now, not politics,” Ban told the conference.

The junta has made it nearly impossible for foreign aid agencies to get access to the Irrawaddy Delta — where the cyclone damage was worst — but the country’s ruling general promised Ban on Friday that those restrictions would be lifted. The government has estimated the economic damage at about US$11 billion (€7 billion).

“Their failure to abide by their own law by refusing to release (Suu Kyi) … is a clear slap in the face to Ban Ki-moon and the ASEAN diplomats and others coming into town,” Genser said, referring to the member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. “They are out of time to hold her under their own law.”

Genser, of U.S.-based Freedom Now, which represents pro-democracy dissidents in a number of countries, said Suu Kyi’s house arrest expired at midnight Saturday. But Nyan Win, spokesman for her opposition National League of Democracy party, said it would not officially be up until Monday, adding there had been “no sign at all” indicating what the government will do.

On Saturday, the government held the second phase of a referendum vote for a proposed military-backed constitution that had already won overwhelming support and is largely considered a sham by the international community. One provision would prohibit Suu Kyi from holding public office. The military refused to accept the results of a general election in 1990 won by her party.

Suu Kyi has lived under house arrest for about 12 of the past 18 years for leading an internationally hailed movement for democracy in Myanmar, which has been ruled by the military with an iron fist since 1962.

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

May 26, 2008 at 7:14 am