Burma’s Suu Kyi files new appeal against detention

Burma opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has lodged a new appeal with the Supreme Court against her house arrest in a last-chance attempt to win freedom, her lawyer said on Wednesday.

The Nobel peace laureate, who has spent most of the last two decades locked up, had her detention lengthened by 18 months in August last year after being convicted over a bizarre incident in which a United States man swam to her lakeside home.

She has already had her appeal rejected twice, most recently by the Supreme Court in the former capital Rangoon in February.

The court is expected to take about two weeks to reach a decision on whether they will agree to a hearing for the new “special” appeal, which was submitted on Monday, her lawyer Nyan Win told Agence-France Presse.

“If law and order prevails, Daw Suu will be freed as she is not guilty. There is nothing more we can do under the law if they reject it again,” he said. “Daw” is a term of respect in Burma.

Suu Kyi has been in jail or under house arrest for 14 of the past 20 years. Her National League for Democracy (NLD) won 1990 elections by a landslide but was prevented by the junta from taking power.

The Supreme Court last week rejected a bid by the pro-democracy icon to prevent the disbanding of her party under widely criticised laws governing elections that are scheduled for sometime later this year.

Critics say the polls are aimed at simply entrenching the generals’ power.

The NLD refused to meet a May 6 deadline to re-register as a party — a move that would have forced it to expel its own leader — and boycotted the vote, which critics say is a sham designed to legitimise the junta’s grip on power.

Under election legislation unveiled in March, anyone serving a prison term is banned from being a member of a political party and parties that fail to obey the rule will be abolished.

The NLD, which was founded in 1988 after a popular uprising against the junta that left thousands dead, won a landslide victory in 1990 elections but the junta never allowed it to take office.

A faction within the NLD said last week that it would form a new political party, to be called the National Democratic Force, that is expected to run in the election.

The United States on Monday demanded “immediate” action by Burma’s junta to address fears the polls will lack legitimacy.

“What we have seen to date leads us to believe that these elections will lack international legitimacy,” a top US diplomat, Kurt Campbell, said after talks with government ministers and Suu Kyi.

“We urge the regime to take immediate steps to open the process in the time remaining before the elections,” he said.

US President Barack Obama’s administration launched dialogue with Burma’s military rulers last year after concluding that Western attempts to isolate the regime had produced little success. — AFP

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