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UK ministers call for Suu Kyi's release

By the CNN Wire Staff
British Ambassador Martin Hatfull reads a statement outside the British embassy in Jakarta on June 18, 2010.
British Ambassador Martin Hatfull reads a statement outside the British embassy in Jakarta on June 18, 2010.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • British officials call for Aung Sang Suu Kyi's release
  • Suu Kyi has been under repeated house arrest for two decades
  • UK foreign secretary says detention breaches human rights law
  • Suu Kyi turns 65 on Saturday
RELATED TOPICS
  • United Kingdom
  • Myanmar

(CNN) -- British Foreign Office ministers called Friday for the immediate and unconditional release of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, detained in Myanmar, on the eve of her 65th birthday Saturday.

Suu Kyi, a Nobel peace laureate, has spent 14 of the past 20 years under house arrest.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Suu Kyi's continued detention "contravenes international human rights law and casts a long shadow over planned elections in the country." He urged the military to release her and all other political prisoners immediately.

A similar call came Thursday from U.N. Special Rapporteur Tomas Ojea Quintana, who is on the U.N. Human Rights Council. He said the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found Suu Kyi's detention is a breach of international human rights law.

"Aung San Suu Kyi has made clear her commitment to working with all parties to achieve national reconciliation. It is high time the regime released her and accepted her offer of dialogue," said Britain's minister for southeast Asia, Jeremy Browne.

"In highlighting the plight of Aung San Suu Kyi, we should remember that she is just one of more than 2,100 political prisoners currently detained by the military authorities," he said. "Many are imprisoned far from the support of their families, in harsh conditions, for sentences of 65 years or longer.

"This is more than a human tragedy -- it is a tragic waste of talent, vision and leadership for a country that desperately needs all three," he said.

Suu Kyi has been imprisoned or under house arrest repeatedly since 1990, when her party, the National League for Democracy, won a landslide election victory.

The military junta that rules Myanmar never recognized the results. The junta recently passed a law that made her ineligible to stand in the upcoming election because she had a court conviction.

The Nobel peace laureate's current house arrest was extended by 18 months last August after an incident in which American John Yettaw snuck into her lakeside home uninvited and stayed for two days.

That prompted Suu Kyi to be tried on charges of government subversion. She told the court she didn't know Yettaw, was unaware of his plans to visit, and didn't report his intrusion because she didn't want him to get into trouble.

She was sentenced to additional home confinement after being found guilty of violating the terms of her house arrest.