US presses Myanmar to free Aung San Suu Kyi

Aung San Suu KyiSINGAPORE (AFP) — US Defence Secretary Robert Gates pressed Myanmar’s military rulers Saturday to free pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and reopen dialogue with the opposition.

“We need to see real change in Burma — the release of political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi, and the institution of meaningful dialogue between the junta and the opposition,” Gates told a high-level security forum in Singapore.

Burma is Myanmar’s former name.

He described military-ruled Myanmar as “one of the isolated, desolate exceptions to the growing prosperity and freedom for the region.”

Aung San Suu Kyi is being detained in a notorious Yangon prison while facing trial on new charges, which have drawn international condemnation, including from Europe and Myanmar’s Southeast Asian neighbours.

She faces up to five years in jail on charges of breaching her house arrest after an eccentric American man swam to her lakeside house in Yangon.

Her political party on Friday said it was “very concerned” about the health of the 63-year-old Nobel Laureate.

Myanmar’s military junta has kept Aung San Suu Kyi in detention for 13 of the past 19 years, most of them in virtual isolation at her tightly guarded home by Yangon’s Inya Lake.

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