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Junta extends Aung San Suu Kyi's detention; youths pressing for her freedom arrested, their whereabouts unknown

(Mizzima/IFEX) - Defying demands of the international community and its own people to free pro-democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, on 27 May 2008 Burma's military rulers extended her house arrest, a government source said.

The extension was reportedly read out to the detained Burmese opposition leader on the afternoon of 27 May by government officials, who visited her at her lakeside villa in Rangoon's University Avenue, the source said.

The source said the extension is for another six months. However, some reports said the extension is for a year. It was not immediately possible to independently verify the information.

Suu Kyi was told of the extension, as her party - the National League for Democracy (NLD) - observed the 18th anniversary of its landslide victory in the general election in 1990.

While her party leaders remained unaware of the extension of Aung San Suu Kyi's detention, Nyan Win, the NLD spokesperson, said it was against the law and condemned the ruling junta for manipulating the law to their convenience.

"The government cannot do whatever it likes. There are laws and if it (the extension) is true then it means lawlessness," Nyan Win told Mizzima.

He added that laws are meant to be followed by all citizens, and that if the junta has extended the detention period of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, they are violating the law that they created.

Meanwhile, the United States-based Freedom Now, an advocacy group lobbying for freedom of prisoners of conscience across the world, said the junta's extension of Aung San Suu Kyi's detention is against both international and domestic law.

"The Burmese junta's extension of Aung San Suu Kyi's house arrest is a clear violation of its own law and comes as no surprise," said Jared Genser, President of Freedom Now and a personal counsel for Aung San Suu Kyi.

According to Burmese law, a person in Burma who is deemed a "threat to the sovereignty and security of the State and the peace of the people" may be detained for up to a maximum of five years through a restrictive order, renewable one year at a time.

Advocacy groups said Aung San Suu Kyi's house arrest cannot be extended as Burmese law does not permit it. According to Burma's existing law, a person cannot be detained for more than five years on grounds that the person is a threat to national security and peace in the country.

Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been detained for over 12 of the past 18 years, was last arrested in May 2003. On 24 May, she completed five consecutive years in detention, according to her personal counsel, Genser.

Earlier on 27 May, about 20 NLD youths were rounded up by the police and herded into policed trucks as they were shouting slogans and marching towards her house. Eyewitnesses said the youths shouted "Free Daw Aung San Suu Kyi."

However, it is still unclear where the youths have been taken.

Over a dozen youth members of the opposition were arrested by Burmese police on 27 May, a party spokesperson told Mizzima.

"They were herded into a Dyna light truck by the police and whisked away," said Nyan Win.

An NLD youth who escaped the arrest told Mizzima that 24 activists began marching towards Aung San Suu Kyi's residence, and were soon joined by nearly 50 bystanders.

Those arrested include: Saw Tin Htoo Aung, Thet Min Soe, Tun Linn Thein, Hla Myo Naing, Aung Pe, Tun Tun Win, Pyih Pyih, Kyaw Myo Naing, Yan Naing Tun, Maung San, Kyaw Zin, Linn Aung Tun, Win Min Aung, Htet Htet Wai Oo and her daughter, the activist said (. . .).

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