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Burma Extends House Arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi


Burma's military leaders have extended democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's detention for another year, rejecting international pressure for her release.

Aung San Suu Kyi has spent most of the past 17 years under house arrest. The 61-year-old Nobel peace laureate is generally not allowed outside, and her doctor is one of her only connections to the world.

Government sources say Burmese officials visited her residence today (Friday) and read out the extension of her term. Her current four-year term of detention was up for review this Sunday.

State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey called the extension "unfortunate" and "condemnable." Casey says Aung San Suu Kyi and all of Burma's other political prisoners should have been released a long time ago.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also expressed his regret over the decision. Mr. Ban said he "strongly believes" the release of Aung San Suu Kyi will help Burma to move toward national reconciliation.

Over the past several weeks, the UN human rights commissioner, ASEAN lawmakers and U.S. and European leaders have joined others in calling for her release. At least 40 people have been arrested in Burma after marching to temples to pray for her freedom.

Rights activists say Burma's military leaders are more concerned about what might happen if Aung San Suu Kyi is released than about international pressure. The activists argue that the government does not want or think it needs to have a dialogue
with her to resolve its problems with the opposition.

Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy won a landslide victory in 1990 elections. But Burma's government has refused to recognize the results and has prevented the party from taking office.

The government has promised general elections after a new constitution is drafted, but there is no indication of when that will happen.

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