President Obama today protested the conviction and sentencing of Burmese human rights activist Aung San Suu Kyi.
"The conviction and sentencing of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi today on charges related to an uninvited intrusion into her home violate universal principles of human rights, run counter to Burma’s commitments under the ASEAN charter, and demonstrate continued disregard for UN Security Council statements. I join the international community in calling for Aung San Suu Kyi’s immediate unconditional release," Obama said in a statement issued through the White House.
"Today’s unjust decision reminds us of the thousands of other political prisoners in Burma who, like Aung San Suu Kyi, have been denied their liberty because of their pursuit of a government that respects the will, rights, and aspirations of all Burmese citizens. They, too, should be freed. Suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. I call on the Burmese regime to heed the views of its own people and the international community and to work towards genuine national reconciliation.
"I am also concerned by the sentencing of American citizen John Yettaw to seven years in prison, a punishment out of proportion with his actions."
Senator John F. Kerry of Massachusetts, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, added his concern.
“The Burmese dictatorship is making a serious mistake by sentencing Aung San Suu Kyi to additional imprisonment. She never should have been arrested, much less convicted on meritless charges. Aung San Suu Kyi, American John Yettaw, and the other political prisoners held by the junta must be freed immediately. The junta’s actions cast serious doubt on the potential for legitimate elections next year and only reinforce longstanding international concerns about the military junta’s treatment of its own people," Kerry said in a statement.
“The Burmese dictatorship should understand that only a good-faith effort to start a dialogue with the political opposition and improvement of its deplorable human rights record can lead to better relations with the United States and the rest of the world. The junta’s latest unjust and short-sighted actions only serves to move the government further down the path of continued international isolation.”
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Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.