Tuesday, 11 August 2009

18 months detention for Suu Kyi

A court in Myanmar found opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi guilty of violating an internal security law on Tuesday.

The court sentenced her to three years in prison, but that was immediately reduced to 18 months on the orders of the military

government, which said she could serve the time in her Yangon home.

A guilty verdict had been widely expected in a case critics say was fabricated by the military regime to keep Suu Kyi out of

circulation ahead of the scheduled 2010 general elections.

The charges stemmed from a mysterious incident in which an American, John Yettaw, swam uninvited to her lakeside home in May

and stayed there for two days, breaching the terms of her house arrest.

Yettaw, 54, from Missouri, is on trial alongside Suu Kyi and two of her housemaids.

Dozens of Suu Kyi's supporters gathered near Yangon's Insein prison, which was surrounded by soldiers to ensure the trial was not disrupted.

Witnesses said at least 2,000 security personnel were in the vicinity of Insein Prison, where she is being held and tried.

The Nobel Prize winner has spent 14 of the past 20 years in detention of one sort or another.

Meanwhile, supporters across Asia called for her immediate release, before the Myanmar court ruling was announced.

Almost 20 protesters gathered outside the Myanmar embassy in Bangkok, waving pictures and chanting "Free Burma" slogans.

In South Korea, a small group of Myammar protesters braved the rain to call for her immediate release.

Zaw Moe Aung, joint secretary of National League for Democracy, Korea Branch saying:

"Burmese military dictators should immediately release Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi. Her trial is not fair. We urge the dictators to immediately release Aung San Suu Kyi."

In Manila, protesters tied yellow ribbons and offered yellow flowers as a symbol of solidarity for the leader and other political prisoners in Burmese jails.

Puja Bharwani, Reuters.