Govt Presses Myanmar over Suu Kyi

JAKARTA ~ The government accused Myanmar this week of tarnishing the reputation of its Southeast Asian neighbors by extending the house arrest of pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi.

It called on the ruling junta to release the Nobel Peace laureate whose current house arrest, imposed in 2003, was extended last week for another year.

The extension brought hundreds of pro-democracy activists onto the streets near her home at the weekend, with protesters lighting candles to mark the election her party won in vain in 1990.

“The extended detention has hurt the democratization process in Myanmar and it has also tarnished the good image of ASEAN,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Kristiarto Legowo said.

“The Indonesian government reminds Myanmar of its commitment made with ASEAN to proceed with democratization and human rights.”

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations has expressed frustration with the pace of democratic reform in Myanmar although the 10-member bloc has said it remained committed to coaxing the junta to introduce greater changes.

ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy won elections 17 years ago by a huge majority, but Myanmar’s military prevented the party from taking power and has kept her in detention for most of the ensuing years.

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