Tue, Dec 21, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Activists call for Myanmar to free democracy leader

DPA , Taipei

Representatives of pro-democracy movements in 13 Asian countries called yesterday for the release of Myanmar's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi due to new concerns over her security and health.

The statement was issued at the end of a meeting of the World Forum for Democratization in Asia (WFDA), hosted by the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy. Representatives from 13 Asian countries attended a workshop of the forum entitled "Democratization in Asia's Closed Societies."

"On Dec. 14, the 1991 Nobel Laureate's team of personal bodyguards was withdrawn from her compound and her access to medical attention was drastically reduced, just weeks after Burma's military regime officially extended her detention by a year," the activists said in their statement.

"These threats and intimidation by the Burmese regime clearly signal that Burma must be disqualified from chairing ASEAN. Instead of releasing Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma's generals have placed her at greater risk," the statement said.

election victory

Suu Kyi led her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), to a landslide victory in Burma's last general elections held in 1990.

She has been under house arrest since May last year, and was recently informed that her detention would be extended for another year. She was last detained after a military-organized mob attacked her and her supporters, killing scores of unarmed civilians.

more appeals

The workshop participants also called for the release of all prisoners of conscience in Asia, including Thich Huyen Quang, Thich Quang Do and Nguyen Dan Que of Vietnam, as well as Tenzin Delek, a Tibetan monk facing the death sentence, and Hu Shigen, a long-term detainee suffering from poor health, in China.

Workshop participants also expressed serious concerns over the harassment and detention of activists from Bhutan and North Korea who sought refuge in Nepal and China.

The WFDA, launched in Taipei this year, is a platform for cooperation among democratic movements, networks and organizations in Asia.

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