[JURIST] The Myanmar Supreme Court on Friday heard the final appeal filed by pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] challenging the extension of her house arrest. The hearing comes two weeks before Suu Kyi’s house arrest is scheduled to end [JURIST report], but her lawyers maintain their goal is to prove her innocence [BBC report]. Suu Kyi’s appeal was heard nine days before Myanmar will hold its first election in 20 years, elections that have been the target of significant skepticism [NYT report] around the world. Ahead of the election, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon [official profile] called on Myanmar to release all political prisoners [UN Radio report], including Suu Kyi, saying, “[b]y releasing all political prisoners, the Myanmar authorities could help open the way for national reconciliation.” A decision on the Suu Kyi appeal is expected within two weeks.
Suu Kyi’s detention is widely believed to be focused on preventing her participation in the upcoming election. Under Myanmar’s current election laws [JURIST report], a provision prohibiting political prisoners from seeking public office prevents Suu Kyi from participating as long as she remains under house arrest. As part of the final appeal of the house arrest term extension, Suu Kyi also seeks annulment of that portion [JURIST report] of the controversial law. The suit also seeks to stop the dissolution of her opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD) and requests the establishment of a parliament of lawmakers who won in the 1990 elections. Suu Kyi, a democracy advocate and Nobel Laureate, has spent 14 of the past 20 years in prison or under house arrest for alleged violations of an anti-subversion law [text, PDF].