Lawyers for detained Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she is being
charged with violating the terms of her house arrest and will soon face trial.
The charges appear related to an American man who also faces charges for
sneaking into her house. Her supporters say the charges are an excuse to keep
her locked up.
Burmese authorities took Aung San Suu Kyi to
court, Thursday morning, along with two of her maids.
One of her lawyers,
Kyi Win, told VOA she was charged with violating her house arrest in connection
with an American man sneaking into her compound.
Kyi Win says a hearing
has been scheduled for Monday. He says Aung San Suu Kyi was charged with
breaching Act 22, which outlaws "destructive elements" of the state. He says
she denies committing any acts related to the charge.
The American man,
John Yettaw, was arrested last week after swimming across a lake and spending
two nights in Aung San Suu Kyi's residence.
The democracy leader has been
detained in her house for most of the last 18 years and is rarely allowed
Yettaw has been charged with violating security and immigration
Richard Mei, a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Rangoon, told VOA
that Yettaw also appeared at the court today and is expected to be at the
hearing next week, as well. He says, after some days of getting no response
from the Burmese authorities, the embassy was finally granted access to
"The embassy has overall, ever since last Thursday, when we first
received notice from the foreign ministry about this man's arrest, that we've
conveyed the U.S. government's strong interest in his case and our concerns for
his health, welfare and fair treatment," said Mei.
It is not clear why
Yettaw entered the Nobel Peace Prize winner's compound or what he did during the
Aung San Suu Kyi's supporters say the charges are an excuse to
extend her detention, which expires on May 27.
government routinely extends her house arrest, but these new charges could put
her in prison for up to five years.
The charges come at a politically
sensitive time for Burma.
The Burmese generals have planned new elections
in 2010, as part of what they call the country's "roadmap to
Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party
overwhelmingly won the country's last elections in 1990, but Burma's military
rulers ignored the results and placed her under house arrest.
preparation for these new elections, the military has already forced through
constitutional changes that will allow it to maintain power, no matter which
parties are elected.
The plan has been widely criticized by rights groups
and western governments.