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12/23/04 - RESTRICTIONS ON AUNG SAN SUU KYI  - 2004-12-23

The military junta that rules Burma has placed further restrictions on Aung San Suu Kyi, the 1991 winner of the Nobel peace prize and leader of Burma's National League for Democracy. Aung San Suu Kyi has been under house arrest since May 2003, when government-supported thugs attacked her and other democracy supporters as they were traveling to political meetings outside of Rangoon, Burma's capital.

Earlier this month, the Burmese junta ordered a reduction in Aung San Suu Kyi's staff at the compound where she lives. The junta also reduced the number of medical visits she can receive each week from three to one. In 2003, she had surgery for what was reported to be a gynecological condition.

United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan has called on the Burmese junta to lift restrictions on Aung San Suu Kyi's freedom of movement and political activities and to begin a genuine process of democratization. President George W. Bush praised Aung San Suu Kyi as a courageous reformer:

"In the words of the Burmese democracy advocate Aung San Suu Kyi: We do not accept the notion that democracy is a Western value. To the contrary, democracy simply means good government, rooted in responsibility, transparency, and accountability."

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the U.S. calls "on the junta to release Aung San Suu Kyi...and all political prisoners immediately and unconditionally." It is time, said Mr. Boucher, for the junta to "engage the democratic opposition and ethnic groups in a meaningful respect and ensure the free exercise of the fundamental rights of the people of Burma."