December 15, 2004

Myanmar continues to hold Suu Kyi under house arrest

From Dec. 6 2004

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Myanmar has extended Aung San Suu Kyi's detention, Malaysia's foreign minister said Monday, confirming recent reports from Yangon that the junta had decided to keep her in isolation.

"It is confirmed," Syed Hamid Albar told reporters. "But we don't even know if there is an end-date. They only say they have not released her...(she is) going to continue to be placed under house arrest."

Syed Hamid earlier hosted a meeting a conference of officials and diplomats from East Asian nations, attended by Myanmar Foreign Minister Nyan Win and several of their Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) colleagues. Nyan Win declined comment.

Suu Kyi, 59, is the 1991 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. She has spent most of the past 15 years confined to her home in Yangon, with no telephone and requiring official permission to have visitors.

Her National League for Democracy said last Wednesday that Myanmar's rulers would extend Suu Kyi's isolation until at least Nov. 27 next year. There had been no official word from Yangon.

Syed Hamid said Myanmar should heed world opinion and release Suu Kyi to help national reconciliation and boost the junta's credibility.

"I think they should look at their roadmap so that it has got credibility and it is believed by the international community they are going to proceed as they have promised," he said.

"I think it should include finally the release of Aung San Suu Kyi if we talk about democracy," he said.

Myanmar's fellow ASEAN members have urged Yangon to release Suu Kyi, whose continued detention has proved an embarrassment to the forum in its dealings with Europe and the United States.

ASEAN, comprising Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Thailand, the Philippines, Laos, Singapore, Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar, has a long-held policy of not interfering in its members' internal affairs.

Washington, which has condemned Syu Kyi's detention and imposed sanctions on Myanmar, has said it will have to think about whether to deal with ASEAN at a senior level when Myanmar chairs the group in 2006, after Malaysia's turn in 2005.

Despite mounting international pressure, Myanmar has refused to budge, instead issuing assurances it is committed to moving toward democracy at its own pace.

Posted by Kyer at December 15, 2004 07:34 PM