Myanmar democracy icon calls her detention illegal

Myanmar`s democracy icon calls for face-to-face talks with junta leader.

Yangon: Myanmar`s democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi said on Thursday that her recent release from seven years of detention did not signal a softening in the military`s harsh, decades-long rule of the Southeast Asian nation.

In an interview with a news agency, Suu Kyi called her detention "illegal" and said she was released simply because the decreed period of her house arrest had ended.

"I don`t think there were any other reasons," she said in an interview in her small, Spartan office, decorated with little beyond a vase of flowers and a black and white photograph of her late father, Aung San, who helped lead colonial Burma to independence from Britain.

"My detention had come to an end and there were no immediate means of extending it," she said.

The 65-year-old Nobel Peace Prize laureate, set free from her lakeside residence on Saturday, has made it clear she plans to pursue her goal of a democratic Myanmar but has been careful not to verbally challenge the junta or call for its overthrow.

Since Saturday, though, the generals and their longtime archrival have had no contact.

"I haven`t seen any sign of the junta at all since I came out. They haven`t made any move to let us know what they feel about the situation," she said.

She added, though, that her goals would not change: "I had better go on living until I see a democratic Burma," she said, laughing.

She has called for face-to-face talks with junta leader General Than Shwe to reach national reconciliation.

Suu Kyi has been detained for 15 of the past 21 years but has remained the dominant figure of Myanmar`s battered pro-democracy movement. More than 2,200 political prisoners remain behind bars.

A week before her release, a military-backed political party swept the first elections in 20 years amid widespread accusations that the balloting was rigged. Final results have yet to be announced, but some military candidates grabbed 90 percent and more of the votes in their constituencies.

Bureau Report