Burmese activists concerned about safety of Suu Kyi

The pro-democracy Burmese activists and human rights groups today expressed concern over the safety and security of Aung San Suu Kyi who was released from house arrest by Myanmar`s military government.

Last Updated: Nov 14, 2010, 00:38 AM IST

Washington: The pro-democracy Burmese
activists and human rights groups today expressed concern over
the safety and security of Aung San Suu Kyi who was released
from house arrest by Myanmar`s military government.

"As she is released, her safety and possible re-arrest
become major concerns," Aung Din, a colleague of Aung San Suu
Kyi during the 1988 popular democracy uprising and executive
director of the Washington-based US Campaign for Burma, said.
According to various sources from Myanmar, Aung Din
alleged, the military authorities have recruited some people
with criminal records in Yangon with a plan to attack her if
she continues to challenge the regime and its implementation
of the sham election results.

She had previously been attacked by the pro-regime
militia, notoriously known as "Swan-Arr-Shin" (Power Rangers)
in the past several times, a militia organised and supported
by the Union Solidarity and Development Association, which
recently transformed into the USDP, he said.

Aung San Suu Kyi was also released from detention
before, only to be re-arrested, he noted. She was under house
arrest for six years from July 1989 to July 1995.

She was again arrested and detained for 18 months from
September 21, 2000 to May 6, 2002.
On May 30, 2003, she and her party members were
brutally attacked by the regime`s militias near Depayin
Township in central Myanmar.

Scores of her party members were killed, and she was
detained again until today.

The Burmese democratic icon spent more than 15 years
under detention between 1989 and 2010.

"Although the regime has repeatedly attempted to
attack, assassinate and isolate her from the public, her
popularity remains highest among the public as the people
admire her as the one and only national leader who can bring
freedom, justice and democracy to their country," he said.

"Her release is a hollow gesture to appease the
regime`s detractors, not a sign of political reform," Aung Din
said.

"The international community needs to continue to
pressure the regime to secure her safety, prevent her
re-arrest as well as demand the immediate and unconditional
release of all remaining 2,200 political prisoners," he said.

Freedom Now, a legal advocacy organisation based in
Washington, who represents Aung San Suu Kyi as her
international counsel as retained by a member of her family,
also raised similar concerns.

"Unfortunately, her release alone is virtually
meaningless until the junta enters into an irreversible
process of dialogue resulting in national reconciliation
between the junta, the National League for Democracy, and
ethnic groups and a restoration of democracy to Burma," said
Freedom Now president Jared Genser.

"For anyone who might mistakenly view this release as
a sign of change, the international community should recall
that Ms Suu Kyi was released from house arrest three times
previously in the mid-1990s and early 2000s and nothing
fundamentally changed in the country," Genser cautioned.

Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights
Watch said her release now is a deeply cynical ploy by the
military government to distract the international community
from its illegitimate elections.

"Suu Kyi has been in a revolving door from detention
to freedom for more than 20 years, so the real question is how
long she will be free this time and under what conditions,"
Pearson said.

"If the military government is serious about
increasing political space after the elections then it will
release all political prisoners immediately and
unconditionally," he said.

PTI