Myanmar junta warns Suu Kyi supporters

YANGON, Myanmar – State media accused supporters of detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Saturday of threatening Myanmar’s security and trying to undermine the courts with comments calling for the Nobel Peace laureate’s immediate release.
The New Light of Myanmar, the military junta’s mouthpiece, said a warning was delivered Friday to members of Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party, which earlier in the week had criticized Suu Kyi’s detention as illegal.

The party says the detention is based on the country’s 1974 constitution and that the constitution is invalid since the current military regime took power in 1988.

Suu Kyi, who has been in detention for 13 of the past 19 years, is on trial for violating her house arrest after an American swam to her lakeside villa uninvited and stayed for two days in May. Suu Kyi, 63, has pleaded not guilty. If convicted, she faces up to five years in jail.

Her trial is expected to resume Friday.

The trial has drawn condemnation from the international community and Suu Kyi’s local supporters, who worry the military junta has found an excuse to keep her detained through elections planned for next year.

Her defense team acknowledges that Yettaw entered her home, but they argue it was the duty of government guards outside her closely watched house to prevent intruders.

The state-run newspaper said criticism of Suu Kyi’s detention by her party’s youth wing were “misleading the public.”

“The act of saying that the 1974 constitution has been dissolved without showing any firm proof is a lawless act,” the newspaper warned. “Stating such incorrect and biased words in advance, while the case is still in progress, amounts to interfering or influencing the ongoing trial proceedings.”

The trial has been delayed by a request for more defense witnesses for Suu Kyi. On Wednesday, the Divisional Court is scheduled to rule on whether to readmit three defense witnesses. The lower District Court earlier had disqualified all but one defense witness — legal expert Kyi Win. Those rejected were all members of Suu Kyi’s party: prominent journalist and former political prisoner Win Tin, party Vice Chairman Tin Oo, currently under house arrest, and lawyer Khin Moe Moe.

Security around Yangon was especially tight Friday, witnesses said, with truckloads of riot police and groups of pro-junta supporters stationed outside the Divisional Court, the headquarters of Suu Kyi’s party, and City Hall in downtown Yangon. Riot police also patrolled the city.

If the Divisional Court rejects the witnesses next week, Suu Kyi’s lead attorney, Kyi Win, said the defense team would appeal the ruling to the High Court, which could further delay the trial. The High Court is Myanmar’s top court.

Suu Kyi’s party overwhelmingly won the last elections in 1990 but was not allowed to take power by the military, which has run the country since 1962.

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