Friday, 20 June 2008

Petition Filed Against Detention of Suu Kyi

The Irrawaddy News

Claiming that the continued detention of Aung San Suu Kyi is illegal and in violation of international law, Freedom Now, a Washington-based rights organization, has filed a petition against the Burmese military government at the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.

“The petition makes clear that the Burmese junta is in clear violations of their own law—as well as the international law—in continuing to detain Aung San Suu Kyi under the State Protection Law 1975,” Jared Genser, president of Freedom Now and lead attorney for Suu Kyi, told The Irrawaddy.

Under article 10 (b) of the Burmese State Protection Law 1975, a person who is a “threat to the sovereignty and security of the State and the peace of the people” can be detained for up to five years, but by no more than one year at a time.

“That time period has expired and now there is no basis to hold her,” Genser said.

Filed on June 18, on the eve of Suu Kyi’s 63rd birthday, the petition demanded her immediate release and “in the absence of [her] immediate release, [that] she be charged and put on trail, and be given a fair trial with access to counsel, with independent judiciary with all of her rights and due process that any detainee under any legal system deserves.”

Referring to previous judgments by this UN working group, Genser said the UN has said on four prior occasions that that under Burmese law, article 10 (b) of the 1975 State Protection Law, the junta is in violation of international standards and therefore continuing to detain her under that law is illegal.

“This petition is an attempt to get the fifth judgment from the UN that she is being held illegally and in violation of international law,” he said.

“Of course, by itself, that judgment is not enforceable. You need to combine this with political and public relations pressure,” Genser observed.

“We use this petition as a means to reinforce that the United Nations cares deeply about her detention and is trying to do whatever it can to bring that detention to an end and that obviously needs to be combined with further pressure and support from the international community,” he added.

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