Tokyo rally calls for Aung San Suu Kyi’s release

Aung San Suu KyiTOKYO — Around 250 people held a rally outside Myanmar’s embassy in central Tokyo on Saturday, the sixth anniversary of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s latest period of detention, to call for her release.

The demonstrators, including Myanmar citizens and Japanese supporters, gathered at the embassy’s gates, where they recalled her arrest in 2003 after a pro-junta mob attack on her motorcade that left about 70 people dead.

The demonstrators then placed flowers at the gates and held a one-minute silent prayer for the Nobel Peace Prize winner’s immediate release.

They also carried her portraits and banners, which were read: “Free Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners now. The Japanese government must pressure the military regime immediately.”

Japanese Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone has told Myanmar his country has “profound concerns” about Aung San Suu Kyi’s trial at Yangon’s Insein Prison, where she is currently detained.

She faces up to five years in jail on charges of breaching her house arrest after 53-year-old Mormon and US army veteran John Yettaw swam to her lakeside home.

Aung San Suu Kyi, 63, has spent 13 of the past 19 years in detention and her new trial has drawn international outrage.

Japan, previously a leading aid donor to Myanmar among the world’s major industrial democracies, in 2003 suspended most assistance other than emergency aid and some training funds.

Tokyo further cut its aid after the regime cracked down on pro-democracy demonstrations led by Buddhist monks in 2007, but it refuses to join its Western allies in imposing sanctions on Myanmar, formerly known as Burma.

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