Wednesday, May 28 2008
Regime Must Explain Suu Kyi’s Detention: NLD
By SAW YAN NAING
Scroll down to also read Aung San Suu Kyi's extraordinarily courageous profile
Burma’s main political opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), told the Burmese military government on Wednesday that the party is ready to fight against the unlawful detention of its leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.
The NLD also called on the regime to explain in legal terms why they are extending the house arrest of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
A poster of Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi (L) stands outside the headquarters of the National League for Democracy in Rangoon on May 10. Outrage over Suu Kyi's house arrest will not detract from relief work, key donors said, as the United Nations on Wednesday reported small gains in getting aid to cyclone survivors. (Photo: AFP)
Nyan Win, a spokesperson for the NLD, told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday, “We are ready to prove why the extension is illegal. If the Burmese junta thinks her continued detention is legitimate they must provide reasons and evidence.”
The NLD stated that it would appeal the decision through legal means.
The military regime announced on Tuesday that Aung San Suu Kyi’s detention had been officially extended for six months, although several sources have claimed that the detention order was for one more year.
Suu Kyi completed five years of house arrest this week. Under the conditions of her detention, Article 10 (b) of the State Protection Act Law 1975, a person can be detained for a maximum of five years.
Suu Kyi has spent more than 12 of the last 18 years under house arrest following the NLD’s landslide victory in the 1990 parliamentary election. She has been confined to her home at Inya Lake in the north of Rangoon continuously since May 2003.
On Tuesday, 18 members of the NLD were arrested and are currently being detained by Burmese authorities after they marched toward Suu Kyi’s home in a demonstration marking the 18th anniversary of the 1990 general election.
Meanwhile, international leaders and human rights groups are deeply upset over the extension of Suu Kyi’s house arrest and have criticized that Burmese government for violating its own law.
US President George W. Bush said in a statement on Tuesday: “I’m deeply troubled by the Burmese regime’s extension of National League for Democracy General Secretary and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi’s house arrest.”
Bush said the US would keep calling for the release of all political prisoners in Burma and urge the government to hold a genuine dialogue with Suu Kyi and other democratic and ethnic minority groups.
Speaking on Tuesday as president of US human rights organization Freedom Now, lawyer Jared Genser said, “The Burmese junta’s extension of Aung San Suu Kyi’s house arrest in clear violation of its own law comes as no surprise.”
Freedom Now says it is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that works to free prisoners of conscience worldwide through legal, political and public relations advocacy efforts.
Genser, who is also lead counsel for Aung San Suu Kyi, said, “It is the Burmese junta itself that has politicized relief efforts through its unwavering pursuit of two rounds of voting on its sham referendum and now extending Aung San Suu Kyi’s house arrest even as millions of ordinary Burmese people are suffering,”
Thailand-based human rights group, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma), also released a statement calling for Suu Kyi’s immediate release.
Thursday May 29, 2008
Two steps back
After giving up, under pressure from the United Nations, its resistance to international aid for the cyclone-hit population, the ruling junta in Myanmar has chosen to extend by another year the house arrest of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Coming close on the heels of a historic visit by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, to put in place a mechanism for receiving and distributing international aid, the decision to detain the Nobel laureate for a sixth consecutive year is virtually a slap in the face of the international community. At the moment, the U.N. and the donors are focussed on getting the aid into Myanmar to prevent another tragedy of catastrophic proportions. Beyond condemning the extension of Ms Suu Kyi’s detention, there may be precious little the international community can do at this juncture. By keeping the National League for Democracy leader under house arrest for one more year, the junta has defied its own law of not detaining a person beyond five years if the trial had not even begun. Ms Suu Kyi has spent 12 out of the past 18 years in detention, mostly under house arrest.
Despite Cyclone Nargis playing havoc along the Irrawady banks early this month, the junta went ahead with the referendum on the draft constitution that provided for an entrenched role for the armed forces in the administration of the country and its Parliament. Having declared majority popular support for the draft constitution, the junta obviously does not want any dissenting voices to be heard as it goes about implementing its anti-democratic agenda. It has apparently calculated that it will lose little by ignoring the collective appeal of the international community for the release of Ms Suu Kyi and the restoration of democracy. Mr. Ban Ki-moon has regretted the military establishment’s decision and said: “The sooner the restrictions on Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and other political figures are lifted, the sooner Myanmar will be able to move towards national reconciliation, the restoration of democracy and full respect for human rights.” He has asked his Special Adviser Ibrahim Gambari to continue the political dialogue with the authorities. Though the U.N. may be committed to pursuing its seven-point democratisation plan for Myanmar, it is doubtful if the military junta will relent and move towards national reconciliation and restoration of democracy. It appears determined to tighten its stranglehold over the country, having destroyed all the democratic institutions. It is up to its neighbours India, China, and ASEAN members to nudge the junta into opening a political dialogue with Ms Suu Kyi and initiating the democratisation process.