Thursday, October 23, 2008

US presses Myanmar to free Aung San Suu Kyi

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The United States on Thursday marked the 13th anniversary of Aung San Suu Kyi's house arrest by renewing its call for Myanmar's military rulers to swiftly release the pro-democracy leader.

"As of October 24, Aung San Suu Kyi has spent a total of 13 years under house arrest," State Department spokesman Robert Wood said in a statement.

"Over the many years, Aung San Suu Kyi has endured unlawful detention, she has remained a steady beacon of hope and inspiration to those seeking a peaceful, democratic Burma," he said.

"We again call upon the Burmese regime to immediately and unconditionally release her and the more than 2,000 political prisoners it holds."

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, 63, has been confined to her home for 13 of the past 19 years. Her National League for Democracy swept elections in 1990, but was never allowed by the military to take power.

Recalling that Friday is also the anniversary of the coming into force of the United Nations charter in 1945, Wood reiterated US support for UN efforts to obtain the release of political prisoners in Myanmar and encourage its shift to democracy.

"Releasing Aung San Suu Kyi would be a first step toward Burma's reintegration into the world community," he said.

"We further join the United Nations and the rest of the international community in calling upon the regime to engage credibly in an inclusive, time-bound dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi and other democratic and ethnic minority leaders to bring about a genuine democratic transition."

Myanmar -- whose former name Burma is still used by the United States and other Western nations -- has been ruled by successive military juntas since 1962, 14 years after its independence from British colonial rule.

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