Suu Kyi marks 14 years in detention

Oct 26, 2009 (DVB), A senior Burmese opposition politician lamented an "unspeakable loss" for the people of Burma as opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Saturday marked 14 years in detention.

Nyan Win, spokesperson for the National League for Democracy (NLD) party, said that the 18-month extension of Suu Kyi's house arrest in August showed that the Burmese government was not committed to democratic reform.

"The international community and the United Nations have been calling for the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi for many years, but the [government] is still refusing," he said.

"This shows clearly that, even though moves towards democratic reform were voiced, it is not actually being practiced.

"Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is an absolutely vital figure for democracy in Burma. The detention against her had pushed Burmese people further down in the hole of misery."

He said that the NLD would continue to push for dialogue with the government without preconditions, despite its leader being under house arrest.

The director of Burma Campaign UK, Mark Farmaner, urged greater international action to secure her release.

"UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon needs to mobilise the international community to secure the release of all political prisoners," he said in a press statement released on 24 October.

"Aung San Suu Kyi has managed to use sanctions as leverage to persuade the Generals to resume dialogue, but so far all we have is low level officials talking about talks.

He added that there "needs to be a sense of urgency" about the political situation inside Burma, as the country prepares for what he called "sham" elections next year.

"The generals are defying the international community and pressing ahead with an election and constitution that could keep them in power for decades to come," he said.

Suu Kyi was first sentenced in 1990 following general elections in which the NLD won a landslide victory. The military government however held onto power.

She was detained again in 2003 following the Depayin massacre, in which junta-backed thugs opened fire on a convoy in which she was travelling in, killing 70 supporters.

Her latest sentencing in August cam at the end of a three-month trial in which she was found guilty of illegally sheltering a US citizen who swam to her lakeside compound. Critics of junta have said the trial was a ploy to keep her in detention beyond next year's elections.

Reporting by Ahunt Phone Myat

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