By Elizabeth Willoughby on
Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi received her sentencing last week: 18 more months of house arrest for breaking the terms of her current detention when she allowed a stranger into her home for two days to recover from swimming across a lake to her property.
The outrage at the verdict is unanimous amongst western world leaders:
UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown: "I am both saddened and angry at the verdict today, 11 August, following the sham trial of Aung San Suu Kyi. The news – that she has been found guilty and sentenced to three years hard labour but that this has been “mitigated” to a suspended sentence of 1.5 years under house arrest – is further proof that the military regime in Burma is determined to act with total disregard for accepted standards of the rule of law and in defiance of international opinion. This is a purely political sentence designed to prevent her from taking part in the regime’s planned elections next year."
US President Barack Obama: “I join the international community in calling for Aung San Suu Kyi’s immediate unconditional release. Today’s unjust decision reminds us of the thousands of other political prisoners in Burma who, like Aung San Suu Kyi, have been denied their liberty because of their pursuit of a government that respects the will, rights and aspirations of all Burmese citizens. They, too, should be freed. Suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. I call on the Burmese regime to heed the views of its own people and the international community and to work towards genuine national reconciliation.”
UN chief Ban Ki-moon’s spokesperson: “The Secretary-General urges the Government to immediately and unconditionally release Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.”
The European Union: is extending its sanctions such as travel bans and freezes on assets to Myanmar judiciary members involved in the verdict. The EU calls for Aung San Suu Kyi’s unconditional release.
Amnesty International: “Her arrest and trial and now this guilty verdict are nothing more than legal and political theatre.”
Human Rights Watch: “The politically motivated guilty verdict against the Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi is a reprehensible abuse of power by Burma’s military government…. This trial was a farce, a brutal distortion of the legal process. By silencing prominent opponents through bogus trials, the generals are clearly showing why the elections they have been touting for next year won’t bring change.”
According to some reports, the American swimmer claims he went to Suu Kyi’s home to warn her. Other reports say he claims God told him to protect her. He received seven years of hard labour at his own trial, and CNN reported Saturday that he has been released to American authorities. Suu Kyi plans to appeal.
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