World News

EU criticizes Myanmar over new Suu Kyi charges

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union joined international criticism of Myanmar’s military rulers on Friday for pressing new charges against detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

“I deeply regret that ... (Nobel Peace Prize winner) Mrs Aung San Suu Kyi has been arrested by the authorities of Myanmar and charged with violating the terms of her detention,” European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said in a statement.

“In fact, instead of being arrested she should have been released from house arrest, which was a clear violation of international law as determined by the United Nations.

Suu Kyi faces trial on Monday. The new charges laid against her on Thursday stem from an incident involving U.S. citizen John William Yettaw, who is alleged to have spent two days in her house earlier this month.

Suu Kyi’s six-year detention, most of it spent under house arrest at her lakeside villa, was due to expire on May 27.

“I urge the authorities of Myanmar to consider the consequences for national reconciliation if Mrs Suu Kyi and other political prisoners continue to be detained,” said Barroso, who heads the EU executive.

The EU has visa bans and asset freezes in place on the Myanmar military government and its backers because of human rights and democracy concerns. It has long called for the release of Suu Kyi and other political prisoners.

Myanmar’s junta has refused to recognize a 1990 landslide election victory for Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy.

Myanmar says it is pursuing its own path to democracy, including a referendum on a constitution drafted by its military rulers. Western governments have called the poll a sham.

Reporting by Timothy Heritage