Myanmar prayer rally calls for release of democracy leader Suu Kyi

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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, where National League for Democracy ralliers had intended to go pray for Aung San Suu Kyi's release.
Image: Ralf-André Lettau.

About 200 supporters of detained Myanmar democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi held a march and prayer rally in Yangon, calling for her release by the military-led government.

Pro-junta counter-protesters and plainclothes police disrupted the march by the members of the National League for Democracy, blocking the way to Shwedagon Pagoda, where Suu Kyi's supporters were intending to go pray. The NLD members retreated to their party's headquarters where they prayed and shouted slogans, "free Aung San Suu Kyi" and "release her now".

Suu Kyi, winner of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize and the leader of the NLD, has been under house arrest for more than 11 of the past 17 years, continuously since 2003, after her motorcade was attacked by a pro-junta mob. The country's ruling State Peace and Development Council reviews her detainment annually, and on Friday (May 25), the junta extended Suu Kyi's house arrest by another year.

The move by the ruling generals had been widely expected, but still drew condemnation from the United Nations, United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom and neighboring member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

On May 27, 1990, Suu Kyi's party won elections by a landslide, but the country's military leadership, which took power in a bloody 1988 crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations, never allowed the NLD to take power.