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Myanmar's Suu Kyi turns 64 amid outrage over trial
Fri Jun 19, 2009 2:12am EDT
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By Aung Hla Tun
YANGON (Reuters) - Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi spent her 64th birthday in detention on Friday as supporters worldwide condemned her trial and called for tougher sanctions against the military regime.
Nyan Win, a lawyer defending the Nobel laureate who faces up to five years in jail, said Suu Kyi would be allowed a few visitors to Yangon's Insein prison, where she is on trial over charges she broke the terms of her house arrest.
"I'm going to send her some birthday presents and food so she can celebrate with a few guests," he told Reuters.
Confined for nearly 14 of the past 20 years, Suu Kyi's birthday has become an annual ritual inside and outside Myanmar for campaigners seeking an end to decades of military rule that has left the country an impoverished international pariah.
But the day has taken on added significance this year amid international outrage at her trial, which is widely expected to end with a guilty verdict.
Protests are planned outside Myanmar embassies in major capitals around the world.
An online campaign, www.64forsuu.org, drew thousands of messages of support, including good wishes from world leaders and celebrities.
"Aung San Suu Kyi is an inspiration to her country and the rest of the world," wrote former Beatle Paul McCartney. "I truly admire her infallible resolve and her determination to stand up for what she believes in."
Suu Kyi is accused of breaking the terms of her house arrest by allowing an American intruder, John Yettaw, to stay for two days after he swam to her Yangon home in early May.
She says the trial, set to resume on June 26, is politically motivated to exclude her from next year's elections. Critics call the polls a sham to entrench nearly half a century of military rule in the former Burma.
In London, British Foreign Office Minister Ivan Lewis said Suu Kyi was being tried on "ridiculous and bogus trumped-up charges." He said the European Union would consider further sanctions against the junta after the trial ended.
"We (Britain) continue to believe that further targeted financial sanctions would increase pressure on the regime," he told reporters.
In Yangon, members of Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) will gather at the party's dilapidated headquarters to release doves and call for the release of more than 2,000 political prisoners and a meaningful transition to democracy.
As in past years, they will probably be ignored as the regime presses ahead with its "roadmap to democracy" and silences dissent in the run-up to the 2010 polls. Scores of activists and dissidents have been convicted by the courts, which have a history of bending laws to suit the generals. Continued...
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