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PRESS RELEASES, OPEN LETTERS, STATEMENTS

Paris-Bangkok, 1 March 2010

BURMA: AUNG SAN SUU KYI MUST BE RELEASED IMMEDIATELY SUPREME COURT'S DECISION ON HER HOUSE ARREST ANOTHER TRAVESTY OF JUSTICE

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma (Altsean-Burma) strongly condemn the decision by Burma to reject Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's appeal against the extension of her house arrest. FIDH and Altsean-Burma consider this latest development as another proof of the regime's disinterest in engaging in true democratic reform.

According to information received, on Friday, February 26, 2010, the Supreme Court of Burma in Rangoon rejected Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's appeal against her house arrest without offering any legal reasoning. Reporters were not allowed in the courtroom. Mr. Nyan Win, Daw Suu Kyi's lawyer, said he planned to obtain explanation for the verdict and then lodge a special appeal against the decision before Burma's chief justice. The pro-democracy leader's appeal has already been rejected once by a lower court in October 2009.

FIDH and Altsean recall that Suu Kyi's house arrest was lengthened for another 18 months in August 2009 when she was arbitrarily convicted with breaching the terms of her house arrest after an uninvited American man swam across a lake to her house and stayed for two nights. The initial ruling has been widely denounced as illegitimate and the trial was considered a sham. Daw Suu Kyi's conviction effectively denies her participation in the general election planned for the fall of this year.

FIDH and Altsean also recall that Friday's verdict comes a week after the visit to the country of Prof. Tomas Ojea Quintana, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, who said upon his departure that he “deeply regretted” being refused access to Daw Suu Kyi. The regime imprisoned five more dissidents during the visit by the UN special rapporteur.

FIDH and Altsean emphasize that key benchmarks must be met by the Burmese regime in order for the elections to be free, fair, inclusive and, above all, credible. The benchmarks include the release of all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, including Daw Suu Kyi and members of the National League for Democracy (NLD) and other opposition parties. The regime must also initiate inclusive dialogue with key stakeholders from democracy groups and ethnic nationalities, including a comprehensive review of the 2008 Constitution, and immediately cease systematic human rights abuses and criminal hostilities against ethnic minority groups, some of which may amount to crimes against humanity and war crimes.

“For a long time now, the international community has been unable to deal with the Burmese junta in a coordinated manner. With this decision, some months before the planned elections, the regime, one of the most repressive in the world, shows again that it can take full advantage of the cacophony of the international community. This must stop.” said Souhayr Belhassen, President of FIDH.