By ARKAR MOE
Burma’s military government charged opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Thursday with breaching the conditions of her detention, as Burmese tried to make sense of the circumstances leading to her arrest and the implications of this latest turn of events for her future.
Suu Kyi, who appeared at a court in Rangoon’s notorious Insein Prison this morning with her two live-in assistants, is believed to be facing up to five years imprisonment for allegedly allowing a man who swam to her lakeside compound to remain there for two nights without informing the authorities.
According to sources from her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), Suu Kyi is facing trial for violating the terms of her house arrest, which is due to end on May 27. She has been detained in her home for 13 of the past 19 years, most recently since May 2003.
In the state-run press, Prime Minister Gen Thein Sein was quoted as saying on May 11 that “It is incumbent upon the administrative body to supervise the rule or discipline for every citizen to abide by”—possibly signaling the regime’s intention to prosecute Suu Kyi to the full extent of the law.
Many in Burma suspect that the regime is exploiting the bizarre intrusion of John William Yetthaw, an American citizen, into Suu Kyi’s home on May 3 as a pretext to extend her detention.
“I suspect the military junta will use this incident as an excuse to detain Daw Suu indefinitely,” said a university student in Rangoon. “It is grossly unfair, but that is the true nature of the dictatorship.”
He also linked the case to the regime’s plans to hold elections next year.
“I believe the military government doesn’t want to release Daw Suu before the 2010 elections,” he said, adding that most Burmese people were too busy trying to make ends meet to pay close attention to the junta’s machinations.
Another resident of Rangoon expressed resignation about the latest episode in the long-running saga of the junta’s efforts to sideline Suu Kyi and the NLD.
“I feel unhappy about this news. I think most people dislike the junta, but they don’t dare to say so frankly because they are afraid,” he said.
Han Thar Myint, a member of the NLD, said that the regime should explain its actions.
“I don’t expect the government to release her, but I doubt they will put her in prison. However, nobody knows for sure what will happen to her until the regime holds a press conference to explain what they intend to do,” he said.
Thakin Chan Tun, a retired ambassador, agreed that the regime should provide more information about the situation.
“News about Daw Suu is rather confused inside Burma right now. The government needs to explain what’s going to happen to her,” he said.