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Swiss want Myanmar prisoners released

Reports about the ailing health of a political detainee in Myanmar have Swiss authorities calling for the immediate and unconditional release of all such prisoners.

This content was published on May 16, 2009 - 12:39

The foreign ministry said it had appealed to the government of Myanmar to respect human rights and release prisoners like Aung San Suu Kyi, winner of the Nobel Peace prize.

Suu Kyi is the leader of an opposition party that the military has stripped of power. She has been under house arrest for nearly six years.

The sentence was set to expire on May 27 but it could now be extended by five years on charges that Suu Kyi had an illegal visitor. An American swam across a lake to reach her home.

Western observers have said the charges may serve to keep Suu Kyi sidelined while the country holds elections.

Myanmar now has about 2,000 political prisoners, a number the Swiss government says it "deplores".

"The practice constitutes a serious violation of international human rights law and is having generally adverse effects on peace and national reconciliation in Myanmar," the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry said it was appealing for Myanmar's ruling military junta to enter "serious and systematic cooperation" with the United Nations to improve the country's human-rights record.

swissinfo.ch with agencies

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