NLD Leader Wants More Security

A lawyer for Burma’s opposition leader says she never discussed anything sensitive with the American whose unwanted visit brought her 18 more months under house arrest.
2009-08-26
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Nyan Win, one of Aung San Suu Kyi's lawyers and spokesman of her National League for Democracy party, speaks to reporters in Rangoon, July 28, 2009.
Nyan Win, one of Aung San Suu Kyi's lawyers and spokesman of her National League for Democracy party, speaks to reporters in Rangoon, July 28, 2009.
AFP

BANGKOK—Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi wants more security around her home, after she was sentenced to 18 more months under house arrest for letting an unwanted visitor into the lakeside compound, her lawyer said.

Nyan Win, who represented the Nobel peace laureate at her trial for allowing an American, John Yettaw, into her home, also expressed puzzlement at Yettaw’s statement that he and Aung San Suu Kyi had held confidential discussions and that she was “ecstatic” to see him.

“Aung San Suu Kyi never discussed anything with Yettaw except to repeatedly urge him to return home to his family,” Nyan Win said in a telephone interview, adding that he had discussed the issue with Aung San Suu Kyi ahead of her trial and that no such conversation with Yettaw had occurred.

Yettaw’s comments in a broadcast interview with CNN were “out of sync” with statements he made during his testimony, Nyan Win said, calling them "false" and saying that they created “a lot of implications.”

Appeal planned

“Aung San Suu Kyi has requested security upgrades to her compound to protect it from unwanted entry,” he said. “Her concern was brought on by Yettaw’s visit.”

In his CNN interview, Yettaw—who was sentenced to seven years’ hard labor but released and sent home last week—said Aung San Suu Kyi was “ecstatic that I was there, but at the same time extremely frightened.”

He went on to call the situation “delicate” and said he didn’t want to “share details because by virtue of confidentiality and out of respect, I told her I would never discuss what we discussed.”

Nyan Win also said Aung San Suu Kyi was “wrongly sentenced” and her legal team would appeal. “The draft is nearly done. We will meet with her [Thursday], perhaps in the afternoon, to discuss the draft,” he said.

Aung San Suu Kyi was convicted Aug. 11 of breaching the terms of her house arrest when Yettaw visited her home. She was ordered to serve 18 months under house arrest.

She was whisked to her tightly guarded home the day she was convicted. She has been detained for about 14 of the last 20 years for her nonviolent political activities, but this year marked the first time she faced criminal charges.

Yettaw was deported from Burma on Aug. 16, after a visit by U.S. Senator Jim Webb. Webb was the first senior U.S. official to meet Gen. Than Shwe, the reclusive leader of the ruling junta.

Conviction expected

During previous periods of detention, members of the youth wing of Aung San Suu Kyi’s opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) guarded her compound, but the junta no longer allows that.

“That is something that we might ask for as an alternative to a security upgrade,” Nyan Win said. “The government has set up security police around the compound, but they are only posted outside.”

The verdict against Aung San Suu Kyi was widely seen as a ploy to prevent her from contesting government-controlled national elections set for 2010.

Those polls will be Burma's first since 1990, when the NLD won by a landslide but was never allowed to take power.

Original reporting by Khin Maung Soe for RFA’s Burmese service. Burmese service director: Nyein Shwe. Translated by Nyein Shwe. Written for the Web in English by Joshua Lipes. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.

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