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Myanmar junta releases political activists arrested at Suu Kyi demonstration

[JURIST] Fifteen members of Myanmar's National League for Democracy (NLD) were released from custody Monday, two weeks after their arrests at a demonstration in support of detained party leader Aung San Suu Kyi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive]. The activists had staged the event to support Suu Kyi on the day she was scheduled to be released from house arrest, but the military junta announced its decision to extend Suu Kyi's detention for another year [JURIST report]. The extension caused heavy criticism of the government, with protesters saying that under Myanmar law [State Protection Law 1975 text; PDF original text, in Burmese], untried detainees may not be held for more than five years. AP has more. The Guardian has additional coverage.

Suu Kyi has spent 12 of the past 18 years in prison or under house arrest for alleged violations of an anti-subversion law [text]. In May, the junta announced that its draft constitution [JURIST news archive] had been overwhelmingly approved [JURIST report] in a national referendum, and quickly decided to extend Suu Kyi's detention despite earlier indications that it might release her [JURIST report] after the referendum. International observers and rights activists have expressed doubt about the legitimacy of the referendum and criticized [JURIST report] the junta for holding the vote immediately after a devastating cyclone hit the country, leaving nearly 130,000 people dead or missing.

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