Myanmar's military government extends house arrest of opposition leader

Myanmar's military government extended the house arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi, the pro-democracy leader who has spent 10 of the last 16 years in detention, her political party confirmed. Te National League for Democracy said Monday it was unable to confirm the length of the extension, but that under the anti-subversion law, it would be one year. The military government has not commented on Sunday's reported extension.

The United States criticized the move, saying junta has yet to charge Suu Kyi with a crime and that it should steer Myanmar toward democracy by releasing her and other political prisoners. "The extension of Aung San Suu Kyi's detention is yet another step in the wrong direction by Burma's military leaders," U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said. Myanmar is also know as Burma. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan was also "deeply disappointed" about Suu Kyi's continued detention, which "is not in the interests of Myanmar's process of national reconciliation and democratization," said his spokesman, Stephane Dujarric.

Suu Kyi has spent 10 of the last 16 years in detention, mostly under house arrest. She is under virtual solitary confinement at her residence in the capital Yangon, is allowed no outside visitors and no telephone contact.

She was last taken into custody on May 30, 2003, after her motorcade was attacked by a pro-junta mob as she toured northern Myanmar. She was held first by the military, and later transferred to house arrest after undergoing an operation at a hospital in Yangon.

Suu Kyi, 60, is detained under the 1975 "Safeguarding the State from Dangers of Subversionists Law," and her detention was last extended for a year in November 2004. Her longest period of house arrest was from 1989-1995, during which she was awarded the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize.

The extension had been expected, since the military government has shown no signs of wishing to talk with the NLD to resolve the country's political deadlock. The junta took power in 1988 after violently suppressing mass pro-democracy protests. It held a general election in 1990, but refused to recognize the results after a landslide victory by Suu Kyi's party.

Reporters in the street near Suu Kyi's house on Sunday, hen her last detention order expired, itnessed a police car entering her compound and leaving five minutes later. It was widely assumed that its occupants came to deliver her detention order, which comes into force when it is read to the detainee, reports the AP. I.L.

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