03/24/2009, 00.00
MYANMAR - UNITED NATIONS
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UN committee: detention of Aung San Suu Kyi is "illegal"

The house arrest of the pro-democracy leader "violates international law but also national domestic laws of Myanmar." The law on the protection of the state provides for a maximum of five years of detention. The Nobel prize winner has spent 13 of the past 19 years confined to her home.

Yangon (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The detention of Aung San Suu Kyi is "illegal"; it violates "international law" and the "national domestic laws of Myanmar." This is the charge of the United Nations committee on arbitrary detention - a body connected to the UN council for human rights - which calls for the "immediate release" of the Nobel peace prize winner.

The leader of the opposition party National League for Democracy has spent 13 of the past 19 years under house arrest. The UN committee has already denounced five times the violation of international laws in the detention of the "Dear Lady." But for the first time, it is emphasizing that the regime of house arrest "not solely violates international law but also national domestic laws of Myanmar."

According to Burmese law, only people who "threaten national security" can be arrested without burden of proof. The reference is to the State Protection Law promulgated in 1975: it allows an arrest warrant to be renewed for a maximum of five years; Aung San Suu Kyi has spent more than 13 years under arrest. It must also be verified whether the Nobel peace prize winner could constitute a threat to the "security of the State or public peace and tranquillity."

Jared Genser, Suu Kyi's Washington-based legal adviser, welcomes the position of the UN committee because it "will have an important impact on the United Nations' ability to press particularly China, Russia and others who have been more protective of the junta." The United Nations working group on arbitrary detention is an independent body made up of experts from Chile, Pakistan, Russia, Senegal, and Spain.

Also today, the leaders of the National League for Democracy issued a new appeal to be allowed to meet with Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and other pro-democracy activists held in the country's prisons.

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