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The Elders call for release of fellow Elder Aung San Suu Kyi

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Thursday, 14 May, 2009

The Elders express their solidarity with Burmese pro-democracy leader and honorary Elder Aung San Suu Kyi as Burma's military regime attempts to extend her imprisonment.

World leaders must not tolerate latest attempt to extend her imprisonment

On Monday 18 May the Burmese political leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, is to be put on trial. Along with her two housekeepers and US citizen John Yettaw, she has been charged with violating the terms of her house arrest. All those charged, including Aung San Suu Kyi, are currently being held in Insein maximum security prison outside Yangon where numerous other political prisoners are also detained. The trial will be held inside the prison.

The Elders, of whom Aung San Suu Kyi is an honorary member, urge world leaders not to tolerate this latest attempt by the military regime in Burma/Myanmar to extend her detention, which has been found to be illegal by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. Aung San Suu Kyi’s latest period of house arrest began in 2003 and is due to expire on 27 May 2009. Her Burmese lawyer U Kyi Win says the latest charges carry a penalty of up to 5 years in prison.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, chair of the Elders said: “This so-called trial is absurd. It is an excuse by the junta to extend her incarceration yet again. Our sister must be released immediately!”

President Jimmy Carter said: “The regime is clearly seeking reasons not to release her. We stand by Aung San Suu Kyi, our fellow Elder, and urge the United Nations and ASEAN to dispatch envoys to Burma to demand her immediate release.”

Mary Robinson said: “Aung San Suu Kyi has been illegally detained for 13 years. This trial is just as illegal. It is not credible for the government to persist with this strategy in order to extend her imprisonment. She should be freed immediately. ”

Aung San Suu Kyi has been detained alone in her home in Yangon for 13 of the past 19 years by the military junta of Burma/Myanmar.

Nelson Mandela and Graça Machel, who co-founded The Elders, invited Aung San Suu Kyi to join the group when it was formally convened in 2007. Because of her ongoing house arrest, Aung San Suu Kyi has been unable to join her fellow Elders, who nevertheless always keep an empty chair for her at their meetings.

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