ASEAN Should Press Burma for Suu Kyi’s Release
Freedom House is deeply disturbed by Burma’s decision to put pro-democracy leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi on trial again and calls on the Association of South-East Asian Nations to pressure the Burmese government for her release.
Senior officials from ASEAN nations are expected to meet tomorrow in Thailand for the East Asian Summit. Their talks come a day after Burma began closed court proceedings against Suu Kyi and two aides for allegedly violating the terms of her house arrest.
"ASEAN leaders cannot afford to simply ignore this latest injustice and should use their leverage to push for Aung San Suu Kyi’s release," said Jennifer Windsor, Freedom House executive director. "ASEAN should not waste this opportunity to show that it is capable of defending human rights and upholding its own charter."
The case revolves around an American man who swam to Suu Kyi’s compound last week and reportedly stayed overnight, although he was not invited. The incident could cost Suu Kyi, who has spent more than 13 years under house arrest, another five years in jail. Her house arrest was due to expire at the end of the month.
"This latest trial of Aung San Suu Kyi simply reaffirms Burma’s place among the world's most repressive regimes," said Windsor. "Burma’s leaders have chosen a flimsy pretext to continue silencing the country’s most powerful opposition voice."
Over the last year, Freedom House noted a sharp increase in the number of political prisoners held in Burma and a widening crackdown on those who might participate in forming political parties for the 2010 elections. The elections show no hope of being either free or fair with Suu Kyi’s new trial and severe restrictions in place on both freedom of association and assembly.
Burma ranks in the bottom tier of the world’s most repressive regimes, earning it a place in Freedom House’s annual Worst of the Worst: The World’s Most Repressive Societies 2009 report.
Burma is ranked Not Free in the 2009 edition of Freedom in the World, Freedom House’s annual survey of political rights and civil liberties, and in 2008 version of Freedom of the Press.
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Freedom House, an independent nongovernmental organization that supports the expansion of freedom in the world, has been monitoring political rights and civil liberties in Burma since 1972.
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