Photo 1 of 4

this photo released by Democratic Voice of Burma, members of the
Myanmar opposition National League for Democracy party hold a banner
and a portrait of party’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi, during a march
protest in Yangon, Myanmar Tuesday, May 27, 2008. Myanmar’s military
junta extended the detention of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on
Tuesday, ignoring worldwide appeals to free the Nobel laureate who has
been detained for more than 12 of the past 18 years, an official said.
About 20 of the protesters were later detained. The banner reads "Free
Aung San Suu Kyi immediately." (AP Photo/Democratic Voice of Burma, HO)

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World outraged over Myanmar’s detention of Suu Kyi

2 hours ago

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — The world broke a self-imposed silence on
Myanmar politics Wednesday, expressing anger at the military junta’s
decision to extend the detention of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu
Kyi days after foreign donors pledged millions to help cyclone victims.

countries, including the United States, Britain and France, issued
biting statements about the regime’s order to keep the Nobel peace
laureate under house arrest for a sixth year.

"This measure
testifies to the junta’s absence of will to cooperate with the
international community," French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said
in a statement.

He called on Myanmar’s government to "free
without delay" Suu Kyi and other political prisoners and opposition
members being held. Suu Kyi has been held for more than 12 of the past
18 years, becoming a symbol of the junta’s intolerance of dissent.

nations critical of Myanmar’s abuses had put politics aside to help
survivors of Cyclone Nargis, which ravaged the Irrawaddy delta nearly a
month ago, killing more than 78,000 and leaving 1.5 million homeless.
Representatives from 50 nations pledged up to $150 million Sunday,
while remaining quiet about Suu Kyi’s plight.

But some of those
countries expressed frustration Wednesday, a day after the junta
extended Suu Kyi’s detention amid the international community’s
outpouring of goodwill.

"Given the terrible human tragedy that
has unfolded in Burma, the Australian government has recently tempered
its remarks so far as the Burmese military regime has been concerned,"
said Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith, using another name for
Myanmar. "But this particular matter cannot go without comment."

Smith expressed "regret" over Suu Kyi’s extended detention.

Washington, President Bush said Tuesday he was "deeply troubled" by the
detention order, but stressed the U.S. would continue to provide
cyclone aid. He called on the regime to free all political prisoners
and begin genuine dialogue with Suu Kyi that would lead to a transition
to democracy.

Her National League for Democracy party denounced
the extension of house arrest as illegal, saying it would launch an
appeal. Party spokesman Nyan Win said the government should also hold a
public hearing on the case.

Under Myanmar law, people deemed
security threats can be detained for a maximum of five years without
trial. The regime has not officially announced its decision to extend
Suu Kyi’s detention or explain why it is violating its own law. An
official confirmed the extension, but insisted on not being quoted by
name because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Foreign Secretary David Miliband of Britain said he was "saddened, if not surprised" by the decision.

"That she will spend her 63rd birthday next month in total isolation is an indictment of the regime," he said in a statement.

Foreign Minister Hasan Wirayuda said Suu Kyi’s continued detention went
against the "goodwill of the international community" in its efforts to
aid Myanmar in its moment of need.

The regime’s move came a week
after U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon made a personal appeal to
Myanmar’s top general in freeing up a logjam of aid and foreign experts
that has been restricted from entering Myanmar’s hard-hit delta.

Ban expressed regret over Suu Kyi’s continued arrest, he praised "a new
spirit of cooperation" between the junta and the international
community in the aid effort. The U.N. said some of its foreign staffers
had begun moving into the delta and emergency food supplies were being
ferried in on its helicopters.

World Vision said it received
permission to send two teams, including five international staffers,
into the Irrawaddy delta Thursday. Japan planned to send a medical team
to the delta Thursday, Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura said.

French warship Mistral arrived in neighboring Thailand on Wednesday to
unload 1,000 tons of humanitarian supplies that will be transported
into Myanmar by the U.N. The junta refuses to allow U.S., French and
British warships to deliver emergency supplies in Myanmar.

Adm. Timothy Keating, chief of the U.S. Pacific Command, said the Navy
would probably withdraw its vessels within days, unless the government
allows it to unload their supplies.

"Absent a green light from
Burmese officials, I don’t think she will be there for weeks," Keating
said at a Pentagon news conference, referring to the USS Essex, an
amphibious assault ship that leads the group. "Days, and then we’ll

The admiral said it was not too late for the Navy to
contribute to the relief effort. He described the sailors and Marines
aboard the ships as "desperate" to provide help.

The junta has
allowed 70 flights by U.S. Air Force C-130s to bring in water and other
relief supplies from a base in Thailand, Keating said.

leaders are leery of foreign aid workers and international agencies,
worrying they could weakened the junta’s grip on power. The generals
also don’t want their people to see aid coming directly from countries
like the U.S. that the junta has long treated as a hostile power.

the regime considers its biggest threat to be Suu Kyi, daughter of the
country’s martyred independence leader, Gen. Aung San. She was awarded
her Nobel prize in 1991 for her nonviolent attempts at promoting
democracy and is widely popular.

Her National League for
Democracy won elections in 1990, but the military refused to accept the
results and has crackdown on its activists since then. But the party
remains country’s largest legal opposition group and has the support of
millions of citizens.