Concern about Suu Kyi growing

The 15-member UN Security Council issued a press release on May 22 expressing concern “about the political impact of recent developments relating to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi”. The council members reiterate “the importance of the release of all political prisoners” as well as the need for Burma’s military leaders “to create the necessary conditions for a genuine dialogue” with Daw Suu Kyi and other opposition and minority groups in order “to achieve an inclusive national reconciliation”.

Burma’s state-run media reported on May 23 that on the fifth day of the trial, after the witnesses for the prosecution had all been heard, the junta-appointed chief judge Thaung Nyunt stated that the court found Aung San Suu Kyi had breached the terms of her house arrest because of the entrance into her compound in early May of an American man who swam across the lake in front of her house and stayed uninvited for two days. Now 63, Daw Suu Kyi has been in custody without trial for more than 13 of the past 19 years.

Part of anti-govt plot

The court’s action came after the military regime’s foreign minister alleged that the foreign intruder, John Yettaw, was part of an anti-government plot. Roadblocks near Daw Suu Kyi’s residence have been removed, an indication she may not be returning anytime soon.
Burma’s courts operate under military supervision and almost always deal mercilessly with political dissidents. British Ambassador Mark Canning described the trial as “a story where the conclusion is already scripted”.

Critics have accused the junta of using the incident as a pretext to prolong custody of Daw Suu Kyi, 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner and leader of the National League for Democracy party (NLD), for the duration of 2010 elections, the climax of the junta’s “roadmap to democracy”, which has been criticised as a stratagem for continuation of military rule.

She had been scheduled to be freed on May 27 after six consecutive years under house arrest, although it was expected that the junta would try to find a fault to extend her detention, as happened in the past. Now she is being placed in solitary confinement in the notorious Insein Prison.

To the military dictators of Burma, Daw Suu Kyi is a menace to peace and stability; to the mainstream population of the country, she embodies the hope for change. Her unacceptable incarceration is not merely a matter of law and order but also evidence of the autocracy annihilating the political aspirations of people of Burma, who overwhelmingly support change.

Although the NLD swept the 1990 parliamentary elections, the junta, which sponsored them, has refused to recognise the result.

It has also clearly indicated that it does not want any of the NLD representatives-elect to participate in the drafting of a new constitution or in the reform of Burma.

Violation of law

Daw Suu Kyi’s detention is in plain violation of the Burmese State Protection Law under which she is being held. The law states: “The duration of such restriction shall be kept to a minimum” and “only necessary restriction of fundamental rights shall be decided”. Nonetheless the generals usually react with hysterics to calls to free her, which come frequently from around the world.

One can confidently presume that the outcome of the trial was prearranged: indeed the screenplay for this drama was on paper long before the American swimmer came into view. The junta always finds an excuse, reasonable or not, to keep Suu Kyi, the key stakeholder in the Burma’s political crisis, behind bars.

Predictable mockery

A top NLD figure and prominent former political prisoner, U Win Tin, has already summed up the trial as a predictable mockery staged to keep the NLD leader out of politics. “Allowing the diplomats and journalists into the courtroom doesn’t mean the trial has been transformed into a free and fair one.

This is merely the usual showcase to convince them they are doing things properly,” he said.

The trial is simply a tool used by General Than Shwe to exclude from the political arena this threat to protracted military rule.

Which leads us to the important question: Will the UN flex its muscles to stop the military's ongoing unilateral proceedings against the Nobel Peace laureate in lawless Burma? And has the world body already planned to address the disagreeable political circumstances there?

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