Suu Kyi's detention extended by a year

Yangon (Asianews/Agencies) – Myanmar's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has had her house arrest extended, her party said on Monday. Aung San Suu Kyi has been held since May 2003, after clashes between her supporters and pro-government forces in northern Burma.

U Lwin, spokesman for Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD), said Suu Kyi's house arrest had been extended under the Law Safeguarding the State from the Danger of Subversive Elements. It allows for a one-year detention of those considered a threat to the state.

The reported extension comes after Burma's ruling junta pledged to release 9,000 prisoners, "inappropriately" jailed by the military intelligence headed by former Prime Minister Khin Nyunt. However, only a handful of the country's estimated 1,300-1,400 political prisoners were among those freed, the opposition says.

The Nobel Laureate has been detained in her lakeside villa since September 2003. She was first detained in May that year, spending some months in Insein jail, then receiving medical treatment for a gynaecological condition, before being confined to her home. Aung San Suu Kyi has been under house arrest twice before - the first time for six years between 1989 and 1995, and the second time for 20 months until she was freed in May 2002. Her party won a landslide victory in 1990 but has never been allowed to govern by the military, which has run the nation since 1962.

The reported extension follows the appointment of a new Burmese Prime Minister, Soe Win, who is thought to oppose engaging with the NLD. He is also thought by some government critics and diplomats to have been responsible for orchestrating the clashes which led to Aung San Suu Kyi's detention last May.

News of her extended house arrest came as ASEAN leaders held their annual summit in Laos, where Myanmar has tried to allay concerns about its "roadmap to democracy" following a purge within the junta last month.