Myanmar opens Suu Kyi trial to journalists and diplomats

[JURIST] Authorities in Myanmar on Wednesday granted 39 foreign diplomats and journalists limited access to the trial of pro-democracy advocate and Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive]. Suu Kyi met briefly with representatives of Thailand, the chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN); Russia, the current president of the UN Security Council [official websites]; and Singapore during the third day of her trial at Rangoon's Insein prison [BBC backgrounder]. British Ambassador to Myanmar Mark Canning [official profile], who did not meet privately with Suu Kyi, said in a BBC interview [transcript] that it was not clear whether Myanmar would continue to grant access to the trial:

this was billed as a concession and I think the view of it is it’s better to have access of the sort we had today than not to have it. But I don’t think anyone would be taken in by the fact that this does not change the fundamental realities of what is going on. But, that said it was good that we were allowed in. Whether ... there will be a repeat of that, I’m not so sure.
Suu Kyi went on trial [JURIST report] Monday for allegedly violating the terms of her house arrest by allowing an American man who swam to her home [NYT report] to stay with her. On Monday, Suu Kyi's lawyer said [AP report] that the court had rejected a request to open the trial up to the media and the public for security reasons. Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] condemned Myanmar's actions, calling the charges "trumped up" [HRW report] and seeking international support for her release.

Suu Kyi, the leader of the National League for Democracy, has spent 12 of the past 18 years in prison or under house arrest for alleged violations of an anti-subversion law [text]. In 2007, the military government had implied that she might be released [JURIST report] after the country's new constitution was approved. In May 2008, the junta announced that Myanmar's draft constitution [JURIST news archive] had been overwhelmingly approved [JURIST report], but the ruling junta at the same time extended Suu Kyi's house arrest for another year [JURIST report].

 

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