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International leaders unite in support for Suu Kyi

May 15, 2009 (DVB), International leaders have expressed dismay at the pending trial of Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, with the United Nations Secretary General saying the issue was cause for "grave concern".

The leader of the National League for Democracy will face charges on Monday for breaching her house arrest conditions following US citizen John William Yettaw's alleged two-night stay at her compound.

Suu Kyi's current six-year spell under house was due to expire on 27 May.

Speaking to DVB, the Australian opposition foreign affairs spokesperson echoed the UN Secretary General's comments.

"I'm deeply concerned about the military junta charging Aung San Syy Kyi," said Julie Bishop, adding that Australia should now increase pressure in order to get a "swift and unambiguous response from the junta."

"We remain deeply worried since the charges are being pressed prior to her supposed release," she added.

Suu Kyi was brought to Rangoon's notorious Insein prison on Wednesday along with her two caretakers who also face charges. It is in a closed court here where the trial will take place.

If convicted under Article 22, which bars her from contact with foreigners, Suu Kyi could face up to five years in prison.

Critics say the move is a tactical one by the government to ensure she remains under detention during the scheduled elections next year.

British prime minister Gordon Brown said he was "concerned" about the events, while opposition leader David Cameron said that her imprisonment "is yet another attempt, to shut off this courageous leader from her people",

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon added to the chorus of condemnation from the international community, saying that both Suu Kyi and all political prisoners "must be free to be able to do so to ensure that the political process is credible".

But perhaps the most alarming words were ushered by the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH), who sent an ominous warning should Suu Kyi be sentenced to imprisonment in Insein jail.

"It's clear for us taking account the number of deaths, torture and disappearing in this prison, we do consider this imprisonment as an effort of the regime to eliminate her," said Emmanouil Athanasion, Program Manager at FIDH.

"We are very strong and sure about the use of the word eliminate: to eliminate her, not only politically.

"People are dying in this prison."

Reporting by Rosalie Smith


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