Suu Kyi given 18-month sentence

Aug 11, 2009 (DVB), Aung San Suu Kyi has been found guilty by a Rangoon prison court of breaching conditions of her house arrest and will face a further 18 months under house arrest, it was announced today.

At the end of a trial which has strecthed over three months, the judge initally handed down a sentence of three years with hard labour, before a "direct order" from junta chief Than Shwe to communte this to a year-and-a-half.

Her co-defendant John Yettaw, the US citizen whose visit to Suu Kyi's compound sparked the trial, was given seven years with hard labour, while her two caretakers, Khin Khin Win and Win Ma Ma were sentenced to three years imprisonment each.

A reporter at the hearing said that following the initial judgement by the court, the government's minister of home affairs, Maung Oo, arrived with an order from Than Shwe "which pardons half of her term and appoints her to just stay in her house for remainder of the term."

Suu Kyi's US-based legal counsel, Jared Genser, issued a statement today "deploring" the sentencing.

"The outcome of this trial has never been in doubt," he said. "The real question is how the international community will react , will it do more than simply condemn this latest injustice?"

"The junta remains deeply concerned about Ms. Suu Kyi's popular appeal, especially leading up to the 2010 'election' that it hopes will legitimize the regime."

British prime minister Gordon Brown said that the verdict is "further proof that the military regime in Burma is determined to act with total disregard for accepted standards of the rule of law and in defiance of international opinion".

"The façade of her prosecution is made more monstrous because its real objective is to sever her bond with the people for whom she is a beacon of hope and resistance," he added.

The Thailand-based Assistance Associaiton for Political Prisoners-Burma (AAPP) said the trial was "yet another travesty of justice".

"There is no justice, no rule of law, and no independent judiciary in Burma," said Tate Naing, secretary of AAPP. "The continued detention of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is the jailing of Burma's future. She is the true leader of Burma."

AAPP called on the US and UK governemnts "to show international political leadership on Burma" at the United Nations , the UK takes up the revolving chair of the UN Security Council this month.

Along with AAPP, the Burma Partnership (BP) group and the Forum for Democracy in Burma (FDB) called on the UN to pass a binding resolution on Burma, including a "global arms embargo and [establishment of] a commission of inquiry to investigate crimes against humanity".

Debbie Chan from the Hong Kong Coalition for a Free Burma, said the Association of Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN) must "respond to these flagrant violations of its new Charter and place the issue of democratization, systematic human rights violations, and Burma's threat to regional security on the agenda of the 15th ASEAN Summit in October 2009".

Reporting by DVB

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