05/15/2009, 00.00
MYANMAR
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Aung San Suu Kyi says she is innocent, world protests her arrest

After hearing charges against her, the opposition leader rejects every accusation. Under the terms of her internment order, she is not barred from having guests on humanitarian grounds. The United Nations call for her immediate and unconditional release. Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu says charges are an “excuse by the junta to extend her incarceration.”
Yangon (AsiaNews/Agencies) – “I did not commit any crime,” said Aung San Suu Kyi’s lawyer Kyi Win, as he quoted what she said when she appeared today before judges in Insein Prison in Yangon. He added that she seemed physically well and was “mentally strong”.

The leader of Myanmar’s main opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), was brought before the Yangon West District Court inside Insein Prison along with her two live-in aides, Khin Khin Win and her daughter, as well as US citizen John William Yeattaw whose entry into her residence led to their arrest. Until her trial begins next Monday Ms Suu Kyi is being held in a "guest room" at the top security Insein jail.

She is accused of violating article 22 of the State Protection Law for harbouring the American for two days after he snuck into the residence. Under the law she could get up to five years in prison or Kyat 5,000 fine (US$ 650) or both.

“This man came voluntarily and uninvited. She harboured him only on humanitarian grounds. In their internment order, there is no such restriction mentioned,” NLD spokesman Nyan Win said.

When the internment order was issued, Aung San Suu Kyi was barred from contacting embassies, political parties, persons related with these political parties, barred from going outside, and from contacting the outside world even over mail and telephone. Nothing in the order says she cannot offer hospitality to someone who asks for help.

“How can one breach the law without any restrictions in this regard? Therefore we say she did not commit any crime,” Nyan Win added.

In the meantime more has come to light concerning John William Yettaw, whose action led to Suu Kyi’s arrest.

He is a Vietnam war veteran, whose apparently suffering from mental and personality disorders.

“He is not crazy, just eccentric,” Yettaw’s former wife told the Times.

He is also living on disability pension by the US Veteran Affairs Administration.

He allegedly entered Suu Kyi’s residence last year but was prevented from meeting the NLD leader by the staff.

The arrest of the Nobel Prize winner has caused uproar in the international community with many demanding her release.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that he was very worried about her arrest.

Tomas Ojea Quintana, rapporteur on situation of human rights in Myanmar, said that Suu Kyi’s detention was “illegal” and demanded that she be freed “unconditionally”.

South Africa’s Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a fellow Nobel Prize winner and a leader in the struggle against apartheid, slammed her arrest, saying that “it is an excuse by the junta to extend her incarceration yet again. Our sister must be released immediately.”

In fact Ms Suu Kyi’s internment order was set to expire on 27 May 2009.

With parliamentary elections expected next year, Myanmar’s military dictatorship has now found a way to rid itself of the country’s most prominent leader in the peaceful struggle for democracy.

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