|Suu Kyi Held in
By Kyaw Zwa Moe
June 20, 2003—Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu
Kyi is being detained in Rangoon’s infamous Insein Prison,
British and US government sources report.
"I am appalled to learn today, on her 58th birthday,
Aung San Suu Kyi is being held in the notorious Insein Jail
on the outskirts of Rangoon in a two-room hut," British
Foreign Office Minister, Mike O’Brien said in a statement
yesterday. CNN also reported that sources had told US embassy
staff in Rangoon that she is at Insein Prison.
An aerial view of
Insein Prison, located on Rangoon's northern outskirts
The UN Special Envoy to Burma Razali Ismail said Suu Kyi
is being held under Section 10(a) of the 1975 State Protection
Act, which allows authorities to detain anyone suspected of
being a danger to the country for five years without trial.
In accordance with the act, people charged under Section 10(a)
must be detained in a state prison.
"This is the most draconian of the Burmese military
regime’s laws, which allows for detention without access
to family or lawyers for 180 days at a time and up to a total
of 5 years, with no prospect of appeal," O’Brien
said. He argues it completely discredits the military’s
claim that Suu Kyi is in protective custody
Military leaders insist that Suu Kyi has been held for her
own protection since the May 30 incident in Upper Burma, when
pro-junta groups clashed with opposition supporters.
" This is
the most draconian of the Burmese military regime’s
laws, which allows for detention without access to family
or lawyers for 180 days at a time and up to a total
of 5 years, with no prospect of appeal — Mike
A statement from the Thai-based Assistance Association for
Political Prisoners–Burma (AAPP) says they have been
unable to independently confirm reports from foreign governments
about Suu Kyi’s location. But if she is at Insein, the
group believes it can pinpoint her whereabouts within the
prison grounds. AAPP says it is likely that Suu Kyi is being
kept in a small building between the women’s ward and
the gallows inside the enormous prison compound.
AAPP’s joint secretary, Bo Kyi, said: "If the
junta holds her [Suu Kyi] in prison, it shows they are taking
tougher action on her and the NLD than usual." Bo Kyi
added that Suu Kyi is probably in solitary confinement and
that authorities plan to keep her for a long period of time.
International pressure would determine how soon she is released,
The European Union and the US have already stiffened economic
sanctions on the military regime since the crackdown on May
30. A new bill before US Congress promises to ban Burmese
imports and extend a visa ban on high-ranking military officials.