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Aung San Suu Kyi Trial Enters 9th Day


The trial of Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi continued Wednesday, the sixth anniversary of her latest round of detention.

The 63-year-old Nobel Peace laureate has spent the 13 of the last 19 years in detention, most of it at her lakeside home in the main city of Rangoon.

In a statement released Tuesday by the White House, U.S. President Barack Obama condemned Aung San Suu Kyi's continued detention, and urged Burma's military junta to release her immediately and without conditions. Mr. Obama says her current trial is a "show trial based on spurious charges."

Authorities lifted her latest home detention order on Tuesday, but she has been held at Insein prison since her arrest May 14 on charges of violating her house arrest, after giving shelter to an American man who swam to her house unexpectedly in the early morning hours of May 4.

The pro-democracy leader testified Tuesday she allowed John Yettaw "temporary shelter" until he left the next day. Her lawyers say she asked him to leave, but allowed the American to stay overnight after he said he was too exhausted and ill to swim back.

She acknowledged that she did not immediately inform Burmese military authorities about Yettaw's intrusion.

Yettaw entered Burma on a tourist visa. He said he dreamt the opposition leader would be assassinated, and that he traveled to Burma to warn her.

Aung San Suu Kyi faces up to five years in jail if convicted. Two of her caretakers and Yettaw himself also are facing trial. Critics say Burma's military leaders are using the trial as a pretext to keep the opposition leader under detention so she cannot participate in next year's elections. Her National League for Democracy won Burma's 1990 elections, but the military refused to relinquish power.

Asian and European Union foreign ministers meeting in Vietnam issued a joint statement Tuesday calling for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and other Burmese political dissidents.

Several members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, have expressed grave concern about Aung San Suu Kyi's trial. A group of ASEAN lawmakers called for Burma's membership in the regional bloc to be suspended if she continues to be detained.

A prominent group of global statesmen and human rights activists known as The Elders have repeated their call for the Burmese junta to release the opposition leader. Aung San Suu Kyi is a member of the group, which is meeting in Morocco this week.

Hundreds of human rights activists staged a demonstration outside the Burmese Embassy in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh Wednesday calling for Aung San Suu Kyi's release.

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