The lawyer for detained Burmese opposition icon Aung San Suu Kyi has been warned by the government not to relay her opinions about the upcoming elections to media outlets.
Nyan Win, one of the few people permitted by the military junta to visit Suu Kyi, told the Thailand-based Irrawaddy magazine last week that in a recent meeting with the Nobel laureate, she said that Burmese people had the right to choose whether or not to vote.
“The last time I met with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, she talked about some legal facts – that by law a voter has the right to vote and the right to not vote. I told this to the media and they reported it but now I’ve been warned against doing this again,” he said.
Suu Kyi’s response to the warning was one of “disappointment”, Nyan Win said. “She also said it was just ‘educating about law’, and that the government has the responsibility to help people understand the law. She said she will complain to those concerned and asked me to find facts.”
He added that authorities told him he was restricted to reporting about her response to her court case; in May, Suu Kyi launched a final appeal against her house arrest, which was handed down in August last year after she was found guilty of ‘sheltering’ US citizen John Yettaw.
Courts are yet to respond to the appeal, but the lawyers who met with Suu Kyi on the 25 June showed her the draft statement that they will present to the court, which the recently-turned 65-year-old made some amendments to.
The Burmese government today enacted an unprecedentedly severe raft of media censorship rules that will curtail the freedom of publications inside Burma to report on the elections, slated for later this year.
Burma already has some of the world’s strictest media laws, and authorities are expected to clamp down on reporters working for exiled media groups as the polls near. Already some 15 journalists are behind bars in the pariah state, some serving sentences as long as 35 years.