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Myanmar defies world pressure to free activist

YANGON, Myanmar — Myanmar's military regime on Tuesday extended the house arrest of democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi, refusing to bow to international pressure of the sort that persuaded the generals to let in foreign help for cyclone victims.

Suu Kyi, a Nobel peace laureate who has been detained for more than 12 of the past 18 years, had her detention extended by one year, said a government official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Her detention has long been the symbol of the regime's heavy-handed intolerance of democratic opposition to its rule, and there is a worldwide campaign lobbying for her release.

President Bush said he was "deeply troubled" by the extension of Suu Kyi's house arrest but stressed that the United States would continue to provide aid for Myanmar's cyclone survivors.

The extension of Suu Kyi's detention came as Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, was still fending off worldwide criticism for its inadequate aid effort after Cyclone Nargis three weeks ago.

Suu Kyi, daughter of the country's martyred independence leader, Gen. Aung San, has long been regarded by the generals as the biggest threat to their power.

Her National League for Democracy party is the country's largest legal opposition group, and it retains the loyalty of millions of citizens despite two decades of repression.

The party won the most seats in 1990 elections, but the military refused to convene Parliament. Instead, it harassed and arrested members of the party, setting a pattern that still stands.

She won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her nonviolent attempts at promoting democracy.

. FAST FACTS

Aid gets through

More than 1-million victims of the Myanmar cyclone have received international aid, and relief groups are battling to reach hundreds of thousands more in remote areas, the United Nations said Tuesday. About 42 percent of the 2.4-million people affected by the storm that hit the Southeast Asian country three weeks ago have received outside help, a spokeswoman for the United Nations' emergency coordination body said. The figure has increased steeply since the military-led government announced last week it would let in more foreign aid specialists.

Myanmar defies world pressure to free activist 05/27/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 3:06pm]

    

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