Accessibility links

Burma's Sentencing of Aung San Suu Kyi Draws Global Outrage

The Burmese government's decision to keep opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest for another 18 months has drawn strong criticism from world leaders.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's office released a statement Tuesday saying he "strongly deplores" the decision. He also urged Burma's military rulers to release Aung San Suu Kyi immediately and unconditionally and engage her in talks on national reconciliation.

Mr. Ban says that if Burma's opposition leader and other political prisoners are not allowed to take part in elections next year, the credibility of the vote will be in doubt. The U.N. Security Council was due to meet Tuesday at France's request to discuss Burma's move.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tuesday Aung San Suu Kyi should not have been tried or convicted and repeated calls for her release.

The Swedish presidency of the European Union called Aung San Suu Kyi's trial a breach of international law. It says EU nations will reinforce economic sanctions targeting Burma's military leadership.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown urged the U.N. Security Council to impose a global arms embargo on Burma. Japanese Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone described Aung San Suu Kyi's sentence as "extremely regrettable."

Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman expressed disappointment with Burma and said Kuala Lumpur will discuss the situation with other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Burma is a member of the 10-nation group.

The Philippines, another ASEAN member, accused Burma of seeking to prevent Aung San Suu Kyi from taking part in next year's election.

ASEAN member Singapore said it was disappointed with Aung San Suu Kyi's guilty verdict, but welcomed Burma's decision to commute her sentence to house arrest.

Singapore also praised Burmese authorities for promising to allow the opposition chief to see medical personnel, maintain contact with her party and gain access to news material.

Secretary Clinton also criticized a Burmese court's decision to impose what she called a "harsh sentence" on 53-year old American John Yettaw, who suffers from medical problems. She was speaking during a visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Yettaw's uninvited visit to the Burmese opposition chief's home in May while she was under house arrest prompted Burma's rulers to put both of them on trial for alleged security violations.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.