CSW condemns continued detention of Burma democracy leader

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) today condemned the decision by Burma's military regime to extend once again the house arrest of democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Her detention was due to expire today, having spent over 12 of the last 18 years under house arrest.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi led the National League for Democracy (NLD) to victory in elections held 18 years ago, on 27 May 1990. The NLD won 82 per cent of the parliamentary seats, but those elected have never been allowed to take up their rightful positions. Most of those elected in 1990 remain in exile or prison.

The decision to extend her current period of house arrest is illegal under Burma's own laws. Aung San Suu Kyi's current detention began in 2003, under the State Protection Law 1975 which does not provide for more than a five-year term.

CSW also expressed condolences to the Karen people following the death last week of Padoh Ba Thin Sein, President of the Karen National Union (KNU). His death follows the assassination of KNU General Secretary Padoh Mahn Sha La Phan in February.

CSW also urged the international community not to fall for the regime's attempts to appease opinion by making token gestures.

CSW's Advocacy Officer Benedict Rogers said: "The regime is remarkably adept at giving the international community token gestures to ease pressure, without making any meaningful changes on the ground.

"The apparent offer to allow international aid workers into the cyclone-affected areas, three weeks after the cyclone, should be treated with caution. Already, the regime already shows signs of backtracking and maintaining restrictions."

CSW also expressed disappointment that United National Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, failed to meet with Aung San Suu Kyi during his recent visit to Burma, and appears not to have raised her case or even made reference to her.

Stuart Windsor, CSW's National Director, called for the "immediate and unconditional release" of Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners.

"They have a crucial role to play in the reconstruction of the country," he said.

Windsor went on to call for "increased, sustained and substantial efforts" to ensure the regime allows unrestricted access for international aid workers to all parts of the country, and urged the international community to impose specific deadlines for the regime to respond.

He said: "Every hour of inaction or restriction that passes, the more people die. The international community should be prepared to take whatever steps are necessary to help the people of Burma."