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Burmese junta extends Suu Kyi's house arrest

Latest update : 2008-05-28

Burma's military junta extended opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's house arrest by another six months. Members of Suu Kyi's NLD party were arrested. Scroll down for the first photos of the demo. (Report: R. Tompsett)

Click here to read FRANCE 24's The Observers blog



Burma’s military regime extended opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s house arrest by six months on Tuesday and tightened security around the Nobel laureate's house and party headquarters. Political analysts say the move is bound to increase tensions with western nations who criticize the junta’s rigid grip on power.

Fifteen members of Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy, were arrested earlier in the day as they marched to Suu Kyi's home after a ceremony at the party's headquarters marking the 18th anniversary of the NLD's landslide electoral victory in a 1990 parliamentary poll.

”We are very worried about the arrest of these people who demonstrated for the release of their leader, who was supposed to be freed today,” Moe Zaw Oo, an NLD party official told FRANCE 24, adding that those arrested belong to the youth branch of the party.

The Burmese military, who have ruled the country since 1962, have never recognised the 1990 poll results which would have allowed Suu Kyi to become prime minister. After her victory in 1990 the junta arrested Suu Kyi, who spent 12 of the following 18 years in prison or under house arrest. Her detention has been renewed regularly since, usually on or around May 27.

The Burmese junta said that her latest arrest started “for her own protection” after her convoy was ambushed while she toured the country on May 30, 2003.

A detention overshadowed by cyclone tragedy

Suu Kyi, daughter of General Aung San, who is considered to be the father of modern-day Burma, is a symbolic figure, admired for her non-violent struggle for human rights and democracy under dictatorship. At one point offered freedom, if she left the country, she refused.

The junta’s decision on Suu Kyi’s arrest comes as the Burmese nation is struggling to overcome the cyclone that hit the country, leaving 134.000 people dead or missing and another 2.5 million people clinging to survival.

The junta has blocked entrance to foreign aid, thus endangering the lives of thousands of people. Calls for more freedom in Burma and for Suu Kyi’s release have been overshadowed by diplomatic efforts to convince the junta to allow foreign relief into the country.

“The regime is using the cyclone to its advantage,"  Moe Zaw Oo told FRANCE 24. "The generals will use the foreign relief donations for cyclone victims for their own benefit. On a political level, their goal is to get some legitimacy, although nobody believes that the recent referendum was free and fair."

Date created : 2008-05-27