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10/9/03 - RELEASE AUNG SAN SUU KYI - 2003-10-10

Lorne Craner, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, discussed Burma recently with members of the U.S. Congress. “You have heard it before but I will emphasize it again,” he said. “The generals must release immediately and unconditionally Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners languishing in Burma's jails and begin to take concrete steps toward true democracy."

The Burmese military junta has held the Nobel peace prize winner and democracy leader virtually incommunicado since a May 30th attack on her convoy by regime-backed thugs. Many National League for Democracy supporters were killed or wounded.

For months following the attack, Aung San Suu Kyi was held at a secret location. She reportedly underwent surgery and was taken from the hospital to her home on September 26th. Since then, she has been kept under house arrest.

U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher says the Burmese regime must end its persecution of Aung San Suu Kyi and others:

"We reiterate our calls, and those of the international community, for the junta to lift all restrictions on her and her supporters immediately, and to release all other political prisoners."

Aung San Suu Kyi was first placed under house arrest in 1989. But the regime's attempts to silence her have failed. The Burma democracy movement continues to gain support across the country and throughout the world, as State Department spokesman Boucher made clear:

"She and her followers should be able to participate in the political life in Burma."

In response to the continued illegal detention of Aung San Suu Kyi and the refusal of the Burmese junta to take meaningful steps towards national reconciliation in Burma, the U.S. has stepped up sanctions on the military regime. A new law bans the import of Burmese products, freezes the assets of senior Burmese officials, and bans nearly all transfers of money from the U.S. to Burma.

The U.S., said Assistant Secretary of State Craner, "will not waver from its commitment to support the long-suffering people of Burma as they battle for democracy, improved human rights, and freedom."