Statement of Isis International, 12 August 2009

On 11 August 2009, Aung San Suu Kyi was sentenced to 18 months of house arrest. In an attempt to sound considerate, the Burmese junta said that this was half of what should have been the actual penalty, three years in prison with hard labour.

The verdict is no longer a surprise for many Burmese who have been struggling for democracy and justice. Just days before the end of her 14-year house arrest, Aung San Suu Kyi was whisked away for trial for allowing the entry of an uninvited US national.

Many states such as the United Kingdom and the European Union were quick to condemn the verdict from an otherwise mock trial. The United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also “strongly deplor[s]” the verdict and further doubts the credibility of the 2010 national elections.

The verdict also said that should she violate the terms of her 18-month house arrest, she would have to serve another 18 months but in prison with hard labour. But given the series of events prior to the trial, we fear that the junta will continue to block any action that will put its already tenuous grip on power under threat at all cost.

Nonetheless, we remain firm in our belief on the triumph of democracy, the perseverance of Aung San Suu Kyi and the will of the Burmese people. Isis International shares the anger of majority of Burmese people as well as concerned individuals, organisations and networks over yet another outrageous political move against Aung San Suu Kyi and the democratic spirit that she has been representing.

We support the current efforts of the UN Security Council towards forging a position on the verdict and calls of networks such as the Burma Partnership that such discussions would lead to a binding agreement for “global arms embargo and an inquiry on crimes against humanity.”

We appreciate the show of solidarity of various governments to Burmese and activists who have been working for a free Burma. While Isis International has always believed that any transformative political change must be defined and executed from within, we urge China, India and Thailand, the leading trading partners of the junta to reevaluate the gains they reap out of their relationship with the Burmese generals and their roles and responsibilities in a community of nations.

But we also urge the same to some governments in the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) as well as those who have been outspoken on the junta's human rights violations and other excesses. In a July 2009 report of Mizzima, the UK, France, United States and Indonesia have infused investment worth nearly US$3 billion, despite their governments' support for economic sanctions.

Expected and painful as it is, the verdict is not about to dash hopes of seeing Aung San Suu Kyi reunited with her people. But it is hoped to be yet another unifying force in the continuing struggle for a free Burma.

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