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Worldwide condemnation of Suu Kyi arrest -

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Worldwide condemnation of Suu Kyi arrest

The World Today - Friday, 15 May , 2009 12:30:00

PETER CAVE: There's been global condemnation of the latest move by Burma to keep democracy leader
Aung San Suu Kyi locked up.

The charges against her for allegedly breaching the terms of her house arrest have been roundly
dismissed by outside observers as both ridiculous and baseless.

But it could be just the thing to keep Suu Kyi out of the public eye until Burma's elections next
year.

An Australian expert says that the UN Secretary-General should personally intervene.

Simon Lauder reports.

SIMON LAUDER: The Burmese Junta has made the extension of Aung San Suu Kyi's house arrest a yearly
event, but in two weeks' time a promised six-year limit on her detention is due to be reached.

Now an American man, reportedly a Vietnam war veteran in home-made flippers, may have delivered the
Burmese military junta the excuse it needs to extend the period of detention again or to throw the
democracy leader in jail for five years.

She's been charged with breaching the terms of her house arrest after the man swam to her lakeside
home and refused to leave for two days.

Attorney for Aung San Suu Kyi, Jared Genser says the charges are patently ridiculous and the
unwanted visitor is a mystery.

JARED GENSER: But what we know about him from news reports is that he's a devout Mormon, that he is
a Vietnam veteran, and that you know he may not be entirely all there from an emotional standpoint.

SIMON LAUDER: Aung San Suu Kyi is now in the notorious Insein prison and will face court next week.

The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has expressed "grave concern" about the fresh charges. His
spokeswoman is Marie Okabe.

MARIE OKABE: The Secretary-General believes that Aung San Suu Kyi is an essential partner for
dialogue in Myanmar's national reconciliation.

SIMON LAUDER: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says she is deeply troubled by what she calls
the "baseless charge" against the Nobel Peace laureate.

HILLARY CLINTON: We call on the Burmese authorities to release her immediately and unconditionally,
along with her doctor and the more than 2,100 political prisoners currently being held.

SIMON LAUDER: Thailand's Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is hoping the United Nations will get
involved.

ABHISIT VEJJAJIVA: It's very important that the political process is inclusive and they have always
maintained that they are in the process of doing so. For instance, during our last meetings they
talk about the continuation of releases of various people.

SIMON LAUDER: The Australian Government has also repeated its view that Aung San Suu Kyi should be
immediately released.

But there's little doubt the charges against her are designed to put off her release once again.

Suu Kyi has been detained for most of the time since she won the 1990 election and now Burma is
preparing for the first national elections since then.

The 63-year-old is still enormously popular in Burma and when she's allowed out pulls a large crowd
of supporters.

Her attorney Jared Genser told Radio National the junta is more scared of Suu Kyi's influence than
it is of world condemnation. But Burma is playing a risky game.

JARED GENSER: You know I don't think that they're going to listen to an outcry. The question is
whether they have overplayed their hand here.

If they actually proceed to sentence her to that kind of time in prison, I think that it will be
very difficult for allies of the junta, you know, particularly some of its allies in ASEAN - China,
India and others - to defend this kind of behaviour.

SIMON LAUDER: Professor Monique Skidmore from Canberra University is an expert on Burma and goes
there several times a year.

She says the junta has made sure there's no chance of another uprising like the one which was led
by monks in 2007.

MONIQUE SKIDMORE: There are still monasteries completely depopulated from monks after the 2007 monk
led uprising.

SIMON LAUDER: There's been worldwide condemnation of this already. Will that do anything, and if
not, what more can be done?

MONIQUE SKIDMORE: I have a feeling that the only thing that may work to Aung San Suu Kyi's favour
at the moment would be if the Secretary-General of the UN, Ban-Ki moon, was to pay another visit to
Burma.

I don't think anything short of that would be an effective intervention, although I doubt that
we'll see any form of the house arrest order at least coming off in the next year or so.

PETER CAVE: Professor Monique Skidmore from Canberra University speaking to Simon Lauder.