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Burma's Sentencing of Aung San Suu Kyi Draws Worldwide Condemnation

By Aru Pande
Washington
11 August 2009

The international community is condemning Burma's decision to keep pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest for another 18 months. A Burmese court on Tuesday convicted the 64-year-old opposition leader of violating an internal security law by allowing an uninvited American to stay at her home.

Aung San Suu Kyi's 18-month sentence drew the ire of leaders across the globe Tuesday. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown called it "monstrous," and categorized the trial as a "sham." French President Nicolas Sarkozy denounced the court ruling as "unjust and unfair," and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the opposition leader should not have been tried or convicted in the first place.

International rights group Amnesty International also condemned the verdict, calling it "shameful." Benjamin Zawacki, Amnesty's Burma researcher, says the sentence ensures Aung San Suu Kyi will not be able to participate in Burma's elections next year.

"Having 18 months with house arrest is just enough time for their interest to be protected to have these elections without interference from her," said Zawacki.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon issued a statement Tuesday, saying unless Aung San Suu Kyi and all other political prisoners are released and allowed to participate in free and fair elections, the credibility of the Burma's political process will remain in doubt.

Soe Aung, a spokesman for the Forum for Democracy in Burma, an internantional organization of Burma activists, says the verdict goes against Burma's promises of national reconciliation.

"That's why we are asking the international community that this is a time that they must act much more clearly." he said.

This action could come in the form of further sanctions against Burma. The Swedish presidency of the European Union said Tuesday E.U. nations will reinforce economic sanctions targeting Burma's military leadership. The United Nations Security Council also scheduled urgent consultations to discuss Burma.



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