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Myanmar extends activist's detention

May 28, 2008|From the Associated Press

YANGON, MYANMAR — Myanmar's military regime on Tuesday extended the house arrest of democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi, refusing to bow to international pressure.

Detention of Suu Kyi, a Nobel peace laureate who has been detained for more than 12 of the last 18 years, was extended by one year, said a government official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the news media.

Her detention has long been a symbol of the regime's intolerance of democratic opposition to its rule.

President Bush said he was "deeply troubled" by the extension of Suu Kyi's house arrest but stressed that the U.S. would continue to provide aid for cyclone survivors.

Her latest detention started in May 2003 after a motorcade in which she was traveling was attacked by a pro-government mob.

The daughter of the country's independence leader, Gen. Aung San, she has long been regarded as the biggest threat to the generals' power.

Her National League for Democracy party won the most seats in 1990 elections, but the military refused to convene parliament, instead arresting party members. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in absentia in 1991 for her nonviolent attempts to promote democracy.

The extension of Suu Kyi's detention came as Myanmar, also known as Burma, was still fending off worldwide criticism for its inadequate aid effort after Tropical Cyclone Nargis.

The storm left an estimated 2.4 million people in need of food, shelter and medical care, according to the United Nations. The government says the cyclone killed 78,000 people.

Only after intense international pressure and a personal appeal by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon did the government agree to let foreign relief workers into the Irrawaddy River delta, the area hit hardest by the cyclone.

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