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International Community Outraged at Aung San Suu Kyi Verdict

By VOA News
11 August 2009

The Burmese government's decision to keep opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest for another 18 months has drawn strong criticism from world leaders.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's office released a statement Tuesday saying he "strongly deplores" the move. He also urged Burma's military rulers to release Aung San Suu Kyi immediately and unconditionally and engage her in talks on national reconciliation.

Mr. Ban says that if Burma's opposition leader and all other political prisoners are not allowed to take part in elections next year, the credibility of the vote will be in doubt.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tuesday Aung San Suu Kyi should not have been tried or convicted and repeated calls for her release.

The Swedish presidency of the European Union called her trial a breach of national and international law. It says EU nations will reinforce economic sanctions targeting Burma's military leadership.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he was "saddened and angry" about the sentencing of Aung San Suu Kyi in what he called a "sham trial." He urged the U.N. Security Council to impose a global embargo on the sale of arms to the Burmese government.

A group of prominent global leaders known as The Elders called on ASEAN, the EU and the U.N. Security Council not to accept Burma's verdict and sentence.

South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, chair of The Elders, said that sentencing Aung San Suu Kyi to house arrest rather than prison is not a concession but a manipulation of an illegal process. Aung San Suu Kyi is an honorary member of The Elders.

Secretary Clinton also criticized a Burmese court's decision to impose what she called a "harsh sentence" on 53-year-old American John Yettaw, who suffers from medical problems. She was speaking during a visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Yettaw's uninvited visit to the opposition chief's home in May while she was under house arrest prompted Burma's rulers to put both of them on trial for alleged security violations.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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