11/28/2005, 00.00
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Suu Kyi's house arrest extended by another 12 months

Military junta informed opposition leader yesterday. Aung San Suu Kyi has spent more than 10 of the last 16 years under house arrest.

Bangkok (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Myanmar's military junta has extended the house arrest of opposition leader and 1991 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi for another 12 months.

Senior police officials visited the pro-democracy leader at her Yangon residence yesterday and read a statement outlining the government decision to renew the detention order for another year, an interior ministry source said.

U Lwin, a spokesman for Ms Suu Kyi's party, the National League for Democracy (NLD) which won the 1990 elections, said it had not been informed of the decision, but expected it.

Since May last year, she has been held in virtual solitary confinement. Her phone has been cut and she has been refused visitors.

Only her doctor has been allowed to call on her periodically during the past year to check on her medical condition after she had a hysterectomy while in detention in August 2003.

The pro-democracy icon has now spent more than 10 of the past 16 years in detention since the military regime first put her under house arrest in July 1989.

Before she was arrested in 2003 for the third time, she spoke to South China Morning Post and said: "We are in opposition to each other at the moment but we should work together for the sake of the country. We certainly bear no grudges against them [the generals]. We are not out for vengeance."

Earlier this month, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution criticising human rights violations in Myanmar, including extrajudicial killings, torture, rape, forced labour and harassment of political opponents.

Ms Suu Kyi is only the best-known of more than 1,000 political prisoners. According to London-based rights watchdog Amnesty International in a statement released on Saturday, her continued house arrest was a "travesty of justice".

The United States and the European Union have imposed sanctions against the military junta.

"Aung San Suu Kyi's extended detention suggests the referendum and new elections may be held within the next 12 months," said a western diplomat in Yangon. "There is no way the junta leaders will release her before then."

The NLD for some time has said that it would not take part in any elections as long as Aung San Suu Kyi was under house arrest.

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