Friday, May 8, 2009

Embassy waits to meet American intruder to Suu Kyi’s home

by Solomon

New Delhi (Mizzima)– Officials of the US embassy in Rangoon said they have not been able to meet the American, who was arrested for illegally entering the residence of detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Richard Mei, the US embassy spokesman in Rangoon told Mizzima that they are still waiting for the Burmese government to respond to their request to allow a meeting with the detained American, whom the Burmese authorities identified as John William Yeattaw.

“We asked for permission [from the Burmese foreign ministry] to meet the individual but we have not got any response yet,” said Mei.

“We have no further information, we’ve been trying to gain access to the individual but so far we have not had any success,” he added.

On Thursday, Burma’s official newspaper, New Light of Myanmar reported that Mr. Yeattaw was arrested for swimming across the Innya Lake and barging into the Nobel Peace Laureate’s lakeside home cum jail, where she has been detained for more than 12 of the past 19 years.

During interrogation, Yeattaw confessed that he had arrived in Rangoon on May 2, and swam across the Innya Lake on May 3, Sunday, and stayed at security cordoned Aung San Suu Kyi’s colonial era home until May 5, the paper said.

He was arrested by security forces on May 6 morning, while swimming back across the Innya Lake, the paper added.

A report by the DPA on Friday says Aung San Suu Kyi, during an interrogation on Thursday, told the police that she deemed her visitor’s entry “illegal” and “unacceptable”.

Citing an unnamed security official, the DPA report said, Aung San Suu Kyi had kept the intruder downstairs in her two-storey villa.

Meanwhile, Richard Mei of the US embassy said, they have been trying to gain access as they are obliged to take responsibility for American citizens and to verify things.

“We are trying to gain access to the individual so we can talk to him but we have not been successful yet,” Richard Mei said.

“I don’t know where he is but in a sense, [I guess] he is being held for questioning,” he added.

While the motive behind the visit remains unclear, Burmese Opposition groups have condemned the act saying it could tarnish the image of the highly revered Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The Democratic Party for New Society (DPNA), a Burmese student-led political party, said the incident is tragic in which the motive of tarnishing the image and personality of Aung San Suu Kyi is involved.

“We are suspicious that the incident is not a mere coincidence but is a plan to disgrace Aung San Suu Kyi both in politics and in her personal life,” Ngwe Linn, joint secretary of DPNS, told Mizzima.

He said, the junta’s behind the scene involvement cannot be ruled out.

“In the meantime, it also proves that Aung San Suu Kyi is not safe and could be in danger. Most of all it proves the junta’s weak security system,” Ngwe Linn said.

Kyi Win, personal lawyer of Aung San Suu Kyi, who was among the few people allowed to meet her, said he did not see many security personnel inside the compound of her house, though there were several of them at the gate.

“When I was meeting her, I saw guards outside the house but I did not see any of them inside the compound,” said Kyi Win.

Ngwe Linn said, the incident could be a well planned move by the junta to find another excuse to continue to detain her.

Aung San Suu Kyi, who was last arrested in 2003 May, will complete six years of continuous detention on May 27. And according to Burmese law she cannot be detained continuously for more than five years. Her lawyer, in New York, has accused the junta of violating its own law by extending her detention period last year.

“We also suspect that this could be a trick to hold Aung San Suu Kyi back and charge her and continue detaining her, because the end of her house arrest term is fast approaching,” Ngwe Linn said.

Meanwhile, Thein Oo, Chairman of the Burma Lawyers’ Council (BLC) in exile said, the incident proves the junta’s negligence and irresponsibility in protecting Opposition leaders.

“She is a political leader of Burma and they [junta] took the responsibility for her security and put her under house arrest, so she should have full security,” said Thein Oo.

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