The Lady

Please use your liberty to promote ours – Aung San Suu Kyi

How time flies.

Its been a year since Aung San Suu Kyi’s house arrest was extended. This one year extension ends this Sunday, 27 May. She has already spent 11 out of 17 years either in prison or under house arrest.

Updated at 10.45pm: Burma extends Suu Kyi’s detention-BBC and Myanmar extends Suu Kyi detention-CNN. 😦

##########

Pressure builds to free Suu Kyi

Source: Al Jazeera English

Calls are growing for the military government in Myanmar to free Aung San Suu Kyi, the detained opposition leader, whose current term of house arrest is set to expire on Sunday.

On Wednesday Laura Bush, the US first lady, and female US senators added their voice to international demands that the Nobel Peace Prize laureate be freed.

That call was echoed by the US state department, which also condemned the detention of other Myanmar activists, saying it showed the military government had “renewed its assault on human rights”.

Earlier in the week the Association of South-East Asian Nations (Asean), of which Myanmar is a member, took the unusual step of calling for Aung San Suu Kyi’s release.

Asean has a long-standing policy of non-interference in members’ internal affairs and usually shies away from any comments that could be taken as criticism.

“We have made these calls repeatedly, and Myanmar has found it difficult to respond,” said Imron Cotan, the head of the Indonesian delegation at a meeting of senior Asean diplomats on Tuesday.

However, observers say there is little indication that the detained opposition leader will be freed when her term expires.

Instead, most expect the government of Myanmar – formerly known as Burma – to extend her detention for another year, as it has done annually for the past three years.

‘Critical’

At a ceremony launching the US senate’s Women’s Caucus on Burma on Wednesday, Bush said the senators would be writing to the secretary-genera of the United Nations urging him to step up pressure on Myanmar.

In a rare intervention in foreign policy matters, the US first lady also urged China to “stand with us” in calling for Aung San Suu Kyi’s release.

China, which has close military and economic ties with the military government, has said it will not get involved in Myanmar’s internal affairs and has vetoed past United Nations resolutions condemning it.

Speaking alongside Bush, Democrat senator Dianne Feinstein said the mission of the newly established senate caucus was to “to shine a light on one of the most critical human rights situations in the world today”.

She said the detention of Aung San Suu Kyi reflected the plight of all the people in Myanmar.

“The situation in Burma is not just about one woman,” she said. “It’s also about the treatment of a people who live under the fist of repression.”

Arrests

Aung San Suu Kyi has spent 11 of the past 17 years either in prison or under house arrest.

Her current spell in detention began in May 2003 after she and other members of her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), were attacked by what human rights groups say was a government orchestrated mob.

In recent days Myanmar authorities have arrested several activists who have held prayer vigils for her release, as well as others who have protested over the country’s economic conditions.

NLD officials say at least 60 activists have been arrested in the past week for holding prayers calling for the 61-year-old opposition leader to be freed.

###########

Related articles and reports

Going Nowhere: By doing business with Burma, Asian countries help its brutal military regime stay in power …….

Will the World Secure Suu Kyi’s Release? from The Irrawaddy

AI report 2007 – Myanmar