Suu Kyi's house arrest extended; Bush unhappy

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Washington, May 28: President Bush voiced disappointment at Burmese regime's extension of democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's house arrest but said, US cyclone relief for Burma would continue. "I am deeply troubled by the Burmese regime's extension of National League for Democracy General Secretary and Nobel Peace Prize winner Suu Kyi's house arrest on May 27," the President said in a statement yesterday.

He, however, said "the US will continue to help the people of Burma recover from the devastation of Cyclone Nargis and will continue to support the Burmese people's long term struggle for freedom." The President said First Lady Laura Bush and he looked forward to the day when "the people of Burma know true liberty and democracy." The statement recalled that "Aung San Suu Kyi's current house arrest dates back to May 2003, when she was detained following the murderous assault by regime-sponsored thugs on her motorcade in Depayin." The United States called upon the regime to release all political prisoners in Burma and begin a genuine dialogue with Suu Kyi and other democratic and ethnic minority groups on a transition to democracy.

Suu Kyi has been under detention most of the time since her party won National Elections in 1990 but was barred by the military from taking power.

Later, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the action against the Burmese Democracy leader was hardly a surprise. It was a sad commentary on the state of political freedom in Burma, he said.

McCormack explained the rationale behind continuing US efforts help the Burmese people recover from the May 3 cyclone disaster: "We've tried to separate out these two things. While we're going to continue to speak out about the nature of the regime. And certainly our previous public statements about the terrible state of human rights in Burma stand, and we'll continue to speak out on behalf of human rights. But part of trying to do what is right for the Burmese people is to provide humanitarian assistance in this time of extreme need." The United States has committed more than 20 million dollars to Burmese cyclone relief, and has been airlifting basic supplies to Rangoon.

The Burmese government, however, has refused to admit a US disaster team to assess actual needs in the devastated Irrawaddy delta, and has spurned offers of direct US military deliveries to the stricken region.


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