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British FM Joins US and EU in Condemning Burma's Detention of Democracy Leader


British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett has joined the United States and the European Union in condemning Burma's decision to extend the house arrest of democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi for another year.

In a statement issued today, Beckett said the international community can have no faith in Burma's promises to restore democracy as long as Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners are held for "nothing more than expressing their desire for freedom and democracy."

Amnesty International also criticized the extended detention. In a statement issued Friday, the New York-based rights group said Aung San Suu Kyi's continued detention highlights the need for urgent action on Burma's deteriorating human rights situation.

Government sources say Burmese officials visited the Nobel laureate's residence Friday and notified her of the extension of her house arrest, which was to expire Sunday.

The U.S. State Department has urged coordinated international pressure on Burmese military leaders, and has called the extension "unfortunate" and "condemnable."

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed regret at the Burmese decision and said he strongly believes the release of Aung San Suu Kyi would help Burma move toward national reconciliation.

Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy won free elections in 1990, but the military government prevented her party from taking office. She has spent most the past 17 years under detention or house arrest.

Information for this report is provided by AFP.

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