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Aung San Suu Kyi appeal rejected by Burma court

Aung San Suu Kyi. Photo: January 2008
Ms Suu Kyi has spent most of the last 20 years in detention

The Supreme Court in Burma has rejected an appeal by pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi against an extension of her house arrest.

Ms Suu Kyi has spent most of the past 20 years in some form of detention, despite her party overwhelmingly winning Burma's last general election.

The Burmese military government ignored those results but are planning their own elections for later in 2010.

Ms Suu Kyi has already been disqualified from standing in these.

Her extended detention has been seen by some analysts as a further guarantee for the military that she will not be able to campaign for others in the elections either.

Her lawyer, Nyan Win, said the court had given no reason for its decision and that he would launch a "special appeal" against the ruling.

British ambassador Andrew Heyn, who attended the hearing, said the decision was unsurprising but still "deeply disappointing".

"We continue to believe that [Ms Suu Kyi] should be released immediately along with the other 2,000 and more other prisoners of conscience," the Associated Press news agency quoted him as saying.

Influential

Ms Suu Kyi was due to have been released in May 2009 but was charged with breaching the terms of her house arrest after an American man swam across a lake to her house.

Her house arrest was lengthened in August after she was convicted over the bizarre incident.

A LIFE IN DETENTION
1988: Military junta comes to power after crushing pro-democracy uprising
1989: Martial law declared; opposition NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi put under house arrest
1990: NLD wins elections; result rejected by the ruling junta
1995: Ms Suu Kyi released from house arrest, but her movements restricted
Sept 2000: Ms Suu Kyi put under house arrest again when she tried to defy travel restrictions
May 2002: Ms Suu Kyi released unconditionally
May 2003: Ms Suu Kyi detained after clash between NLD and government forces
Sept 2003: Ms Suu Kyi allowed home after operation, but put under house arrest; in the years since, orders for her detention have been periodically renewed

A lower court rejected an initial appeal in October, and the latest rejection was expected.

The court also rejected an appeal by two women who work for Ms Suu Kyi and were imprisoned over the same incident.

Ms Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) party won landslide elections rejected by the military in 1990. She was awarded the Nobel peace prize soon after.

Analysts say the military junta still fears her influence over Burmese people.

The United States, European Union and some other countries have imposed further sanctions on the Burmese regime for its treatment of Ms Suu Kyi and an estimated 2,000 other political prisoners.

Many critics have said the military's planned elections will be a farce when the opposition is not allowed to field its own candidates.

At the same time, the US has spoken of a need to find new ways to reach Burma's rulers, as sanctions have not brought about any change in approach from the Burmese military government.



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