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Suu Kyi Held in Insein Prison

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 O’Brien "

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, he argued.

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.

 
 
     
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