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02 December 2004

U.S. Protests Extended Detention of Burma's Aung San Suu Kyi

White House calls for immediate release of democracy leader

The United States condemned the recent decision of the military regime in Burma to extend for another year the house arrest of democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

In a statement released December 2, the White House said it "continues strongly to support" the Nobel Peace Prize winner, whose National League for Democracy party won Burma's national elections in 1990 but was prevented by the military junta from taking office.

"The generals in Rangoon must come to understand that they cannot indefinitely suppress the legitimate aspirations of the Burmese people," the White House said in its statement. The White House called for the immediate and unconditional release of Aung San Suu Kyi and all other political prisoners.

Following is the text:

(begin text)

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
December 2, 2004

STATEMENT BY THE PRESS SECRETARY

The United States continues strongly to support Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi and the Burmese people in their struggle for freedom in Burma. As the President has said, "Aung San Suu Kyi is a courageous reformer and a remarkable woman who remains under house arrest for her efforts to bring democracy to her nation." Thus we note with deep concern reports that the Burmese regime has extended her detention for an additional year. If true, this represents a return to a pattern of unacceptable backtracking on commitments the regime itself has made to move toward democracy and national reconciliation. We had hoped that some recent prisoner releases were a sign that the regime was beginning to move in the right direction, but the continued detention of Aung San Suu Kyi seems to indicate that this is not the case.

Some of Burma's neighbors have engaged the regime in an effort to encourage positive change, but these overtures have been consistently rebuffed. The generals in Rangoon must come to understand that they cannot indefinitely suppress the legitimate aspirations of the Burmese people and resist the worldwide march to freedom and democracy. Once again, the United States calls on the regime to release Aung San Suu Kyi and all other political prisoners immediately and unconditionally, and to begin taking other meaningful steps toward national reconciliation, democracy, and improved human rights. Only then will Burma be able to rejoin the community of nations and ensure security and prosperity for its people.

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(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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