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6/5/03 - DETENTION OF AUNG SAN SUU KYI - 2003-06-06

The leader of Burma's democracy movement and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Aung San Suu Kyi, is being held incommunicado by the Burmese military regime. She was detained May 30th following an attack on her motorcade and hundreds of National League for Democracy supporters. The assault reportedly came from hoodlums working for the so-called Union Solidarity and Development Association, a pro-military regime front. Burmese troops also reportedly opened fire on the crowd of pro-democracy activists. The regime said that four people were killed and some fifty others were wounded.

Aung San Suu Kyi has traveled to many parts of Burma to meet with her supporters. Thousands have turned out to meet her, only to be harassed by gangs of pro-regime hoodlums. But instead of arresting those responsible for the violence, the Burmese regime arrests its victims.

Members of the National League for Democracy, including an elected member of parliament, were recently sentenced to prison terms ranging from five to twenty years.

As Philip Reeker, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department, made clear, "The recent detention of Aung San Suu Kyi and other senior leaders of her party marks a significant step back for the military regime in Rangoon and for the people of Burma. [The U.S. calls] on the regime for the immediate release of these officials and the reopening of their offices."

The U.S. supports the efforts of United Nations Special Envoy Tan Sri Razali Ismail to bring about talks aimed at a transition to democracy in Burma. Releasing Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners and reopening the offices of the National League for Democracy are essential steps in that direction.