Asia-Pacific

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Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi on Trial

Myanmar citizens living in Japan hold portraits of Aung San Suu Kyi as they shout slogans during a rally in front of the Myanmar embassy in Tokyo on May 14. (Photo: Yoshikazu Tsuno / AFP-Getty Images)

Australia — The Age (May 18): Australia has added its voice to the international outcry over charges against pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, informing Burmese authorities of Canberra's "grave concerns." Foreign Minister Stephen Smith has again called for the release of Ms. Suu Kyi, who on Monday went on trial on charges of harboring an American who swam to her home last week. Ms. Suu Kyi has spent most of the past 19 years detained in virtual isolation in her crumbling compound since the Burmese military junta refused to recognize her National League for Democracy's landslide victory in the country's last elections in 1990.

Canada — Canada.com (May 15): The middle-aged American blamed for landing Myanmar's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi in jail is said to be a Mormon father of seven and Vietnam War veteran with a quixotic world view. The little that is known about John William Yettaw, 53, suggests the Missouri native thought he was helping Suu Kyi's cause by swimming to her lakeside home and staying uninvited. "We have to blame him," the Nobel Laureate's chief lawyer Kyi Win said, after Myanmar's military junta triggered global outrage by charging Suu Kyi Thursday with breaching the terms of her house arrest. "He is a fool," the lawyer said.

Czech Republic — Prague Daily Monitor (May 18): The main Burmese opposition party National League for Democracy, headed by Suu Kyi, said she was visited by American John Yettaw in her home arrest after he swam over the lake near which her house is situated. Yettaw spent two days in the house although he was asked by her to leave. Then he was arrested by the Burmese military authorities. Under the conditions of the house arrest, Suu Kyi is banned any contact with embassies, parties and related persons and must not communicate with the outside world by phone or e-mail.

India — The Hindu (May 16): President Barack Obama has formally extended U.S. sanctions against Myanmar amid latest tensions over detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi who was put on trial on charges of allowing a U.S. national to visit her home without permission from the authorities. "I have determined that it is necessary to continue the national emergency with respect to Burma (Myanmar), and maintain the sanctions against Yangon to respond to this threat," Obama told Congress. The move comes despite an official review of the U.S. policy on Myanmar currently underway.

Korea — The Korea Times (May 18): The international response has been predictable. But, demanding Aung San Suu Kyi's release is not a strategy and focusing exclusively on her, as important and symbolic as she is, will not lead to a solution. As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently observed, US policy toward Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, as followed by her husband's administration and by the Bush administrations that came before and afterwards, is not working: "Clearly, the path we have taken in imposing sanctions hasn't influenced the Burmese junta," she noted during her mid-February visit to Indonesia. She is, of course, absolutely right.

Taiwan — Taiwan News (May 18): China, India and other Asian countries should press Myanmar's military leaders to drop charges against pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and release her from house arrest, E.U. foreign ministers said Monday. The E.U. ministers meeting in Brussels discussed increasing sanctions against Myanmar's junta, but also said they would urge Myanmar's neighbors to do more to help restore democracy in the Southeast Asian country. ... Suu Kyi, one of Myanmar's more than 2,100 political prisoners, is on trial in Yangon for allegedly harboring an American man who swam to her lakeside home where she was under house arrest.

Philippines — Manilla Bulletin (May 18): Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo urged the government of Myanmar yesterday to "immediately and unconditionally" release pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi as he expressed the Philippine government's "outrage" over the filing of new charges against her just days before the expiration of her six-year detention. "The Philippine government is deeply troubled and outraged over the filing of trumped-up charges against Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her transfer to Insein prison, particularly when concerns have been raised regarding her health," Secretary Romulo said.

Thailand — The Irrawaddy (May 18): Two governments have remained significantly silent, however — those of Burma’s two giant neighbors, China and India. The reasons for their silence aren't difficult to discern. Both countries exploit Burma's natural resources and are major trading partners. China, in particular, profits from lively arms sales to the pariah regime. China makes no secret of its strong ties with Burma. New Delhi, on the other hand, is a pathetic hypocrite, changing its policy from support for Suu Kyi to one of subservience to Burma's ruling generals. India has descended a long and ignoble decline since presenting Suu Kyi with its coveted Jawaharlal Nehru Award.

United Kingdom — BBC News (May 18): Burma's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has gone on trial in Rangoon. She is charged with breaching the terms of her house arrest, because of a visit by an American man who swam across a lake to her house earlier this month. A lawyer for Ms. Suu Kyi says she will plead not guilty as the American, John Yettaw, had not been invited. The charges have been widely condemned, but a guilty verdict would mean she would be in jail during the run-up to elections planned next year.

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