Myanmar’s detained democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi is making a final bid for freedom, lawyers said Tuesday after submitting a request for a special appeal against her house arrest.
The Nobel Peace Prize laureate has already lost two appeals against an August 2009 conviction, most recently at the country’s High Court in February. Her last legal option is the Special Appellate Bench, a multi-judge panel in the remote administrative capital of Naypyitaw.
Lawyers filed their appeal Monday at the High Court, which will decide whether to forward the case to the special court for consideration, said attorney Nyan Win.
The 64-year-old Suu Kyi has been under house arrest for 14 of the past 20 years. In August 2009, she was convicted of violating the terms of her house arrest for briefly sheltering an American who swam uninvited to her home, and she was ordered to serve three years in prison with hard labor. The trial drew global condemnation.
Suu Kyi’s sentence was commuted to 18 months of extended house arrest, which would keep her detained through elections planned for later this year. An initial appeal was rejected in October 2009 and upheld by the High Court in February.
Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy Party, which won the country’s last election in 1990 but was not allowed to take power, was disbanded last week after refusing to register for the upcoming polls.
The party has denounced new election laws as undemocratic and declined to register as required, which meant it was automatically dissolved.
U.S. envoy Kurt Campbell, the assistant secretary of state for East Asia, met with Suu Kyi for nearly two hours Monday at the end of a two-day visit to Myanmar.
He did not reveal details of their talks, but praised her nonviolent struggle for democracy.
“She has demonstrated compassion and tolerance for her captors in the face of repeated indignities,” he told reporters. “It is simply tragic that Burma’s generals have rebuffed her countless appeals to work together to find a peaceable solution for a more prosperous future.” Burma is another name for Myanmar.
In talks with senior junta officials, Campbell said he conveyed Washington’s “profound disappointment” with events leading up to the election.
“What we have seen to date leads us to believe that these elections will lack international legitimacy,” Campbell said. “We urge the regime to take immediate steps to open the process in the time remaining before the elections.” The exact date for the polls has not been set.