Burma: Protesters arrested in lead up to Suu Kyi trial


On July 17, 20 members of jailed democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy were arrested after peacefully marching in a crowd of 300 to mark Martyrs' Day.

The July 20 Sydney Morning Herald said the activists were arrested when they returned from ceremonies marking the death of Suu Kyi's father, General Aung San. A leader of the Burmese independence movement, San was assassinated on July 19, 1947, shortly after Britain granted the colony independence.

Suu Kyi marked the anniversary of her father's death inside Rangoon's Insein prison. She is on trial facing charges of violating the terms of her house arrest by giving shelter to an uninvited US man who swam to her lakeside home in May.

Suu Kyi has been under detention for 14 of the past 20 years.

Than Swe, Burmese permanent representative to the United Nations, said the military regime was considering a prisoner amnesty.

A spokesperson for Burma Campaign Australia said the Burmese military regime's announcement of prisoner amnesties should be treated with scepticism: "In the week since the Burmese military regime announced they would consider a prisoner amnesty, which was welcomed by the UN, they have arrested 21 more people, demonstrating the insincerity of the regime's promises and their lack of willingness to undertake any genuine steps towards democracy."

In a statement, Burma Campaign Australia said past prisoner amnesties resulted in thousands of criminals being released but only a handful of political prisoners. There are more than 2100 political prisoners in Burma.
Over the past 18 months, the number of political prisoners has doubled.

Burma Campaign Australia called on the Australian government to impose tougher sanctions on Burma's military regime.