Myanmar: Release Aung San Suu Kyi
Aung San Suu Kyi
Evidently, the military junta running Myanmar (Burma) has decided to make life for Aung San Suu Kyi even worse. Today was the second day of her trial. The New York Times reports:
As protests grew around the world, the trial of Myanmar’s pro-democracy leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, entered its second day Tuesday as the government pursued its charges that could transform her years of house arrest into the harsher conditions of a prison term.Apparently, Yettaw "had made a similar intrusion last November, swimming across the lake and giving her a copy of The Book of Mormon, a testament of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi is a devout Buddhist." Evidently, Yettaw's attempts to "save" Aung San Suu Kyi don't include keeping her safe.
Hundreds of police, some in full riot gear, blocked roads leading to Insein Prison, where the trial is being held, and a small number of protesters gathered in the street outside a ring of barbed wire, according to reports from the scene by news agencies and exile groups.
Analysts say the case against Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi, 63, is intended as a legal pretext for extending her house arrest, which was to expire later this month. Myanmar plans to hold a general election early next year to cement the control of the military under a nominally civilian administration.
Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi is charged with receiving an unauthorized visitor following an intrusion by an American, John Yettaw, who swam across a lake earlier this month and entered the compound where she has been held under house arrest for 13 of the past 19 years. Her lawyers say she had no role in his intrusion and asked him to leave, but let him stay the night when he complained of exhaustion and leg cramps. Her two housekeepers are on trial with her on similar charges, which could bring prison terms of up to five years.
If Yettaw had arrived at most of the back doors in America seeking to proselytize the residents, he would have been firmly told to get lost. Perhaps not in polite terms. I am thinking of how many Sunday afternoon callers have seen my screen door firmly slammed in their faces. Aung San Suu Kyi, however, isn't like me. She allowed him to stay over until he was able to leave. And so, her compassion toward this unexpected, probably unwanted visitor (is "religious fanatic" too strong?) is a crime that might imprison her.
What a disgraceful, sham trial. It's no wonder that so many have protested this trial:
In Washington, a State Department spokesman, Ian Kelly, said the charges against her were unjustified and demanded her release, along with an estimated 2,100 other political prisoners. Last week, in response to her arrest, the United States extended a regime of harsh economic sanctions against the ruling military junta although it had earlier said it was reviewing the effectiveness of this policy.You can follow this at Aung San Suu Kyi's page as it develops.
Other condemnation came from around the world, including the United Nations and the European Union. Breaching a low-key policy of “constructive engagement,” Myanmar’s Southeast Asian neighbors issued a statement late Monday expressing “grave concern” over her arrest and saying “the honor and credibility” of the Myanmar government were at stake.
The statement, issued by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or Asean, read: "The Government of the Union of Myanmar, as a responsible member of Asean, has the responsibility to protect and promote human rights. It is therefore called upon to provide timely and adequate medical care to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi as well as to accord her humane treatment with dignity."
The members of Asean are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Nine Nobel Peace Prize laureates on Monday condemned the arrest of Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi, who won the prize in 1991. “We are outraged by the deplorable actions of the military junta against Suu Kyi and strongly encourage challenging this obvious harassment of our fellow Nobel laureate,” the prize winners said in a statement.