Sunday, May 24, 2009



Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi was taken from her home last week
and put in Insein Prison on a charge of breaching the conditions of her
house arrest order. ARTICLE 19 and Human Rights Watch are demanding that
the international community pressure the Burmese military government not to
continue Suu Kyi's 13-year detention.

Suu Kyi went on trial on 18 May for violating the conditions of her house
arrest by sheltering U.S. citizen John William Yettaw, who swam to her
lakeside home to secretly visit her earlier this month. In a surprise move,
on 20 May the junta allowed journalists and the public to cover her trial,
reports the Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA).

"China, India, and the ASEAN members, through their indifference and
ineffectiveness, each bears responsibility for the bricks and mortar of
Aung San Suu Kyi's prison," said ARTICLE 19. ASEAN has since expressed
"grave concern" at Suu Kyi's trial, but the chair of the regional group,
Thailand, ruled out sanctions.

Burmese law states that it is mandatory to notify the military authorities
about any overnight visitor, and foreigners are not allowed to spend the
night in a Burmese home. Suu Kyi faces up to five years in prison under the
State Protection Act, which is frequently used to imprison other
pro-democracy activists.

Yettaw is being tried separately for violations of immigration law and a
statute covering swimming in the city's Inya Lake.

"The Burmese military government is blaming a prisoner for somebody
breaking into a prison," said ARTICLE 19. "This would be laughable if it
was not so unbelievably sad."

Coincidentally, Suu Kyi's appeal against her imprisonment was rejected
earlier this month, even though she was scheduled to be freed on 27 May.
The junta was widely expected to extend her detention yet again. The UN has
declared that her imprisonment is illegal under international law and even
under Burma's own legal code, which allows for a maximum of five-years in

The latest charges are widely seen as a pretext for the government to keep
Suu Kyi detained past elections it has scheduled for early next year. Suu
Kyi's political party, the National League for Democracy, has announced
that representatives will not take part in the 2010 elections if Suu Kyi
and other political prisoners are not freed.

ARTICLE 19 is also urging interested stakeholders to write to the editors
of India's most popular newspapers asking them to call attention to their
government's role in propping up the illegitimate Burmese regime. For
addresses, see:

In the wake of Suu Kyi's re-imprisonment, the junta has stepped up its
restrictions on Internet usage, making it more difficult for Burmese to
send emails or access websites, reports Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
The increase restrictions "suggest that the military government is once
again trying to isolate Burma, as it does whenever there is political
tension," said RSF.

Then on 15 May, journalists working for various Rangoon-based publications
complained about their inability to cover Aung San Suu Kyi's arrest because
of government censorship, according to the online exile publication

In a separate case, two U.S. journalists who were teaching students in
Mandalay were arrested on 6 May and deported to Bangkok the following day,
reports Mizzima News. Jerry Redfern and Karen Coates believe their case
could be the fallout from the recent actions of fellow U.S. citizen Yettaw,
whom they do not know.

Related stories on
- Aung San Suu Kyi facing trial and incarceration in Insein prison:
- Military government imposes new restrictions on Internet usage (RSF):
- Two American journalists deported (Mizzima News):

More on the web:
- Free Aung San Suu Kyi petition (

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