Obama Calls for Suu Kyi's Release

The U.S. commander in chief makes a blunt appeal to Burma's ruling junta: Let her go.

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Suu-Kyi-305.jpg Aung San Suu Kyi during a meeting with Burma’s labor minister, Jan. 30, 2008.

WASHINGTON—U.S. President Barack Obama called on Burma’s military government Wednesday to release detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi “immediately and unconditionally.”

“I call on the Burmese government to release National League for Democracy Secretary General and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi from detention immediately and unconditionally,” Obama said in a written statement.

“I strongly condemn her house arrest and detention, which have also been condemned around the world,” he said of the Nobel Peace laureate.

I strongly condemn her house arrest and detention..."

U.S. President Barack Obama

“Aung San Suu Kyi’s continued detention, isolation, and show trial based on spurious charges cast serious doubt on the Burmese regime’s willingness to be a responsible member of the international community,” Obama said.

“This is an important opportunity for the government in Burma to demonstrate that it respects its own laws and its own people, is ready to work with the National League for Democracy and other ethnic and opposition groups, and is prepared to move toward reconciliation.”

Violation alleged

Aung San Suu Kyi is currently on trial for violating the terms of her detention in a case which has drawn widespread condemnation. She faces up to five years in jail, if convicted. A conviction is widely expected.

Aung San Suu Kyi, 63, had been scheduled for release Wednesday after her latest six-year detention expired, but she was re-arrested this month after a visit to her house by an uninvited U.S. follower.

She took the stand at her trial inside Rangoon's notorious Insein jail on Tuesday to tell the court that she wasn’t immediately aware of the man’s late-night visit but was informed later by her assistant.

“By her actions, Aung San Suu Kyi has represented profound patriotism, sacrifice, and the vision of a democratic and prosperous Burma. It is time for the Burmese government to drop all charges against Aung San Suu Kyi and unconditionally release her and her fellow political prisoners,” Obama said.

“Such an action would be an affirmative and significant step on Burma’s part to begin to restore its standing in the eyes of the United States and the world community and to move toward a better future for its people.”

Original reporting by RFA's Burmese service. Burmese service director: Nancy Shwe. Executive producer: Susan Lavery. Edited and produced in English by Sarah Jackson-Han.


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