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UN Chief Regrets Extension of House Arrest for Burma Democracy Leader

  • VOA News

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says he regrets Burma's decision to extend the house arrest of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi for a sixth consecutive year.

Mr. Ban said Tuesday that Aung San Suu Kyi's case is one of the most important and serious concerns of the international community. He said the sooner she and other political figures are freed, the closer Burma will be to restoring democracy.

The UN chief said he was able to discuss political issues during his recent meeting with Burmese leader General Than Shwe, but declined to go into detail.

Burma's military leaders notified Aung San Suu Kyi of her new term of detention in a visit to the Nobel laureate's home Tuesday. The 62-year-old opposition figure has spent 12 of the past 18 years under house arrest.

US President George Bush says he is deeply troubled by the extension of Aung San Suu Kyi's detention, which her US lawyer says violates Burmese and international law.

The US State Department called the extension of house arrest a sad statement about political freedom in Burma, but promised the development will not affect US aid for cyclone victims in Burma.

Britain's UN ambassador, John Sawers, said he was dismayed at the Burmese government's insensitivity to renew the opposition figure's house arrest as the world rallies to provide disaster relief.

Earlier, witnesses say riot police shoved at least 15 members of her National League for Democracy party into a truck when they attempted to march to her home in Rangoon.

The march began as the NLD held a ceremony to mark the anniversary of its victory in 1990 elections, a victory the ruling generals ignored. Six police trucks were stationed outside NLD headquarters while plainclothes police stood watch from across the street.

The NLD released a statement condemning Burma's military government for going ahead with a vote on a new constitution shortly after Cyclone Nargis devastated parts of the country May third.

The government says approval of the constitution will lead to general elections in 2010. Opposition and human rights groups say it will only strengthen the military's control.

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