A UN independent human rights expert on Thursday called for the immediate release [press release] of Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] and other "prisoners of conscience" in order to create improved conditions for upcoming elections. Suu Kyi is currently awaiting the decision on her final appeal [JURIST report] challenging the 18-month extension of her house arrest. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention [official website] has repeatedly called on Myanmar to abide by the Universal Declaration on Human Rights [materials] which forbids arbitrary arrest and detention. The Working Group recently released its sixth opinion calling Suu Kyi's detention arbitrary. On Friday, the UK Foreign Office [official website] also called on Myanmar to immediately release [press release] Suu Kyi and other dissidents, saying:
Her continued detention, and that of more than 2,100 other political prisoners in [Myanmar], contravenes international human rights law and casts a long shadow over planned elections in the country. I urge the military regime to release all political prisoners immediately and unconditionally, and respect the human rights of [Myanmar's] people.In October, Myanmar is expected to hold their first elections [BBC report] in more than two decades.
Suu Kyi's detention in her compound in Yangon will prohibit her from competing in this year's elections as a member of her National League for Democracy (NLD) [party website] party. Suu Kyi, who has been in prison or under house arrest for 14 of the past 20 years, will be released in November [JURIST report], according to a government official, likely after the elections have taken place. In April, Suu Kyi filed suit before the Myanmar's Supreme Court to stop the dissolution of her opposition NLD under a controversial election law [JURIST report]. Additionally, the claim seeks to annul the part of the election law that bars political prisoners [JURIST report] from participating in elections and also requests the establishment of a parliament of lawmakers who won in the 1990 elections.