Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Suu Kyi hopes for 'better days' - From correspondents in Rangoon
Agence France-Presse

BURMESE opposition icon Aung San Suu Kyi said she hoped for "better days", as the ruling junta unexpectedly allowed diplomats and reporters to attend her trial today.

The 63-year-old looked healthy as she thanked foreign envoys for coming to the Insein Prison, in her first public comments since she was charged last week with breaching her house arrest, an AFP reporter inside the court said.

"Thank you very much for coming and for your support," Aung San Suu Kyi, wearing pink Burmese traditional dress, said inside the courtroom at the end of the third day of the trial.

"I can't meet you one by one, but I hope to meet you all in better days."

Aung San Suu Kyi then went for a meeting with the ambassadors of Thailand, Singapore and Russia at a so-called "guest house" inside the prison compound.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner faces up to five years in jail if convicted of charges of breaching her house arrest stemming from an incident earlier this month in which an American man, John Yettaw, swam to her lakeside house.

The surprise move by the military regime to allow some diplomats and media access to the trial followed intense international pressure and a scathing condemnation by Burma's normally placid Southeast Asian neighbours.

Authorities held the first two days of hearings behind closed doors and had turned away European diplomats on Monday, but today said representatives from all 30 foreign embassies would be allowed in.

The regime also allowed five journalists from foreign news organisations and the same number from local organisations to report on the hearing.

Details had previously emerged only in state media or through Aung San Suu Kyi's lawyers.

There was no immediate information available on her meeting with the Thai, Singaporean and Russian envoys - a rare encounter with the outside world for Aung San Suu Kyi, who is normally kept in virtual isolation at her home.

She has spent 13 of the last 19 years in detention since the regime refused to recognise her party's landslide victory in the last elections to be held in Myanmar in 1990.

Thailand was picked because it holds the chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), while the Singaporean envoy is the doyen of Rangoon's diplomatic corps and Russia heads the UN Security Council.

Asked to explain the regime's apparent change of heart, a western diplomat said that following international pressure on the ruling generals, particularly by ASEAN, "one has to ask if all these pressures played a role".

Today, the trial heard from only one police witness about the arrest of Mr Yettaw, who used a pair of homemade flippers to swim across the lake before spending two days at Aung San Suu Kyi's residence.

Mr Yettaw, a 53-year-old former US army veteran from Missouri, and two female aides who live with the Opposition leader are also on trial.

Aung San Suu Kyi's lawyers have described Mr Yettaw as a "fool" and said she only allowed the American, reportedly a diabetic, to stay after he complained of suffering from leg cramps.

Recent Posts from Burma Wants Freedom and Democracy

Recent posts from WHO is WHO in Burma


The Nuke Light of Myanmar Fan Box
The Nuke Light of Myanmar on Facebook
Promote your Page too