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Myanmar junta under pressure to free Suu Kyi
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Human Rights Abuses:
Myanmar’s opposition calls on UN to take action
Myanmar military government came under intense international pressure Friday to free pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi after she was imprisoned ahead of a new trial next week for breaching the terms of her house arrest, according to reports.
The United States and the United Nations led calls for the immediate release of the 63-year-old, whose trial is due to start in jail on Monday. The Nobel Peace Prize awards committee issued a rare public statement Friday to condemn the imprisonment of 1991 peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and to demand her immediate release.
The European Union joined international criticism of Myanmar's military rulers on Friday. "Instead of being arrested she should have been released from house arrest, which was a clear violation of international law as determined by the United Nations,” European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said in a statement.
The EU has visa bans and asset freezes in place on the Myanmar military government and its backers because of human rights and democracy concerns. It has long called for the release of Suu Kyi and other political prisoners.
Myanmar’s neighbours and fellow Asean members - Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia - have raised concerns about Myanmar's move and called for her release.
The junta took Aung San Suu Kyi from her home on Thursday to Yangon's notorious Insein prison. The new charges laid against her on Thursday stem from an incident involving US citizen John William Yettaw, who is alleged to have spent two days in her house earlier this month. Suu Kyi's six-year detention, most of it spent under house arrest at her lakeside villa, was due to expire on May 27.
"What we would like to know is what the truth is, what the intent of that US man is, how could he pass the security guards surrounding Mrs Suu Kyi's house, who is behind this and is there some sort of conspiracy?" Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya was quoted by the Bangkok Post as saying Friday.
Meanwhile, Singapore said Friday it was dismayed after Myanmar lodged new charges against Aung San Suu Kyi. Indonesia also urged Burma to release Mrs Suu Kyi and drop the new "arbitrary" charges against her.
Rights groups slam Asean countries for their silence after the Myanmar military junta brings trumped up charges against an ailing Aung San Suu Kyi, AFP reported.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch urged the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) to use its influence with its most troublesome member, and said that China, Japan and India should also use their weight.
Asean ambassadors met in Yangon on Friday to hammer out a statement on the group's perennial problem country, but the 10-member bloc has historically shied away from criticising the ruling generals.
Japanese Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone voiced "deep concern'' over the new charges, local media reported. Japan is the top donor to Myanmar among the OECD's major economies.
But there was silence from the rest of the region. China, one of Burma's closest allies and a major consumer of its vast natural resources, remained silent on the charges against Aung San Suu Kyi, as did India.
London-based Amnesty International called on the UN Security Council, "notably China and Japan, and Asean countries, (to) urgently intervene to secure Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's release from Insein prison''.
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama on Friday formally extended US sanctions against Myanmar, keeping up pressure on the junta at the height of its new showdown with the detained democracy leader.
The 63-year-old opposition leader was jailed on Thursday on charges of violating her house arrest. She has spent 13 of the past 19 years in detention without trial for her nonviolent promotion of democracy.
The junta has kept Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest for nearly 20 years. The Nobel peace laureate led her party to victory in 1990 but the junta never allowed the election to stand.
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