Judges at the Supreme Court in Rangoon announced on Monday that they will hear Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s appeal against the 18-month extension of her house arrest which was passed down in August, said Nyan Win, one of her lawyers.
The proceedings at the Supreme Court, the highest court of appeal in military-ruled Burma, began at 10 a.m. this morning, Nyan Win told The Irrawaddy on Monday.
“We had one and a half hours to argue our case,” said Nyan Win. “The court reconvened at 3:30 p.m. and the judge announced an appeal could be launched and that a date would be set for the hearing.”
Kyi Wynn acted as the main defense lawyer for Suu Kyi at court on Monday morning. Members of her defense team said that plain-clothed security guards patrolled outside the court during proceedings.
There will also be a separate appeal for Suu Kyi’s companions, Khin Khin Win and Win Ma Ma, according to their lawyer, Hla Myo Myint. Suu Kyi was sentenced to an additional 18 months house arrest for violating the terms of her detention after US citizen John William Yettaw stayed at her lakeside home on May 3. At the time, she had already spent more than 14 of the last 20 years in detention.
Her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), has yet to announce if it will participate in an election scheduled for 2010. According to recent statements, the NLD intends to stand by its so-called “Shwegondaing Declaration” announced in April. The Shwegondaing Declaration is an NLD statement outlining three provisos for the party’s participation in next year’s election: a review of the provisions in the 2008 Constitution “not in accord with democratic principles”; an all-inclusive free and fair poll under international supervision; and the unconditional release of all political prisoners, including its leader Suu Kyi.
Burma’s state-run media reported on Sunday that the Burmese government will not make any amendment to the 2008 Constitution before the general election next year. Observers say the report may have been a hint to Suu Kyi and her party that the NLD leader will likely be excluded from the election.
The Constitution can only be amended by representatives of the upcoming elected Parliament, said The New Light of Myanmar and other Rangoon-based newspapers on Sunday. According to the Constitution, Suu Kyi can not contest the election as she was previously married to a foreigner.
Suu Kyi is also seeking a dialogue with junta chief Snr-Gen Than Shwe. NLD sources say she is prepared to cooperate with the junta in the best interests of the country, especially to help lift Western sanctions on Burma.
Sunday’s newspaper report said the junta will not change the constitutional article that guarantees 25 percent of parliamentary seats to the military.
The commentary also claimed that the Constitution had been approved by the Burmese people and that Western diplomats and military attachés inside Burma had been allowed to observe the voting, and that the results had been recognized.
However, many diplomats and Burma observers have said that the constitutional referendum in May 2008 was a sham.