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Nobel Committee issue rare protest on Suu Kyi

May 16, 2009 (DVB), The Norwegian-based Nobel Committee have issued a rare statement protesting the arrest of Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, saying her recent detention is "totally unacceptable".

The leader of the opposition National League for Democracy party was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1991, and is the only Nobel laureate to be in detention.

"She has done nothing wrong," said Thorbjorn Jagland, Chairman of the Nobel Committee.

"We urge that she and other political prisoners be immediately and unconditionally released," adding that "free elections should be held as soon as possible".

Suu Kyi will face trial on Monday for allegedly breaching conditions of her house arrest following the intrusion last week of US citizen John William Yettaw into her compound, where she has been held under house arrest for 13 of the last 19 years.

The Nobel Committee's comments follow alarming remarks from the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH), who sent an ominous warning about the possibility of Suu Kyi being detained in Rangoon's notorious Insein prison.

"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."

If convicted of the charges, Suu Kyi could face up to five years in prison. She is nearing the end of the sixth year of her current spell under house arrest, due to expire on 27 May.

Critics of the Burmese regime have alleged that the pending trial is a tactical manoeuvre to exclude her from the 2010 elections.

Reporting by Francis Wade and Rosalie Smith


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