| Aung San Suu Kyi
Bangkok, July 2 (AFP): Myanmar’s Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been transferred from the notorious Insein prison following UN criticism that she was being held under “absolutely deplorable” conditions, an informed source said today.
The gesture was too minor to calm the international community’s outrage over her detention and could signify that the ruling military government intended to keep the leader detained for a long period, diplomats said.
Aung San Suu Kyi “has been transferred, probably at the end of last week, and is now being held at an undisclosed location,” the source told AFP.
He said the junta had “many military camps and guest houses where it can detain its opponents incommunicado. One possible option is that Suu Kyi could have been brought to the military camp of Yemon, some 40 km outside Yangon, where political prisoners have been held in the past,” the source said.
Aung San Suu Kyi was taken into “protective custody” after riots broke out on May 30 when her convoy and supporters were attacked by a junta-backed mob during a political tour of northern Myanmar.
The government says four people were killed in the clashes but dissident groups say dozens died.
Despite an international furore over her detention, Myanmar’s ruling junta has given no sign of when it will release the 1991 Nobel Peace prize winner.
The government has not revealed where she is being held but the British government said last month that the National League for Democracy (NLD) leader was being held in a two-room hut at Insein without even a change of clothes.
UN special envoy Razali Ismail met her on June 10 and is the only independent person to have seen her since her isolation. After his visit, Razali declined to confirm the reports that Aung San Suu Kyi was being held at Insein, but acknowledged her detention conditions were appalling.
“What I can say is that where I met her was absolutely deplorable. It was not in keeping with the stature and the status of Aung San Suu Kyi as a political leader or as a national leader,” he said.
Insein prison, built on the outskirts of Yangon, has the most sinister reputation of Myanmar’s jails.
and features torture chambers used by the regime against political dissidents.
"If this means that she will get better detention conditions, good. But the rest of her situation hasn't changed," the informed source said by telephone from Yangon.
Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said Wednesday that Myanmar's Deputy Foreign Minister Khin Maung Win had made a one-day visit to Bangkok Tuesday and also told him that Aung San Suu Kyi was well and not in prison.
"They showed me a picture of Aung San Suu Kyi, the place she currently staying, and a photo of her talking to other people. She is not in prison but in a safe house," Thaksin told reporters, declining to elaborate.
Yangon-based diplomats warned the transfer could mean the military government was settling in for the "long term."
"It could be (in response to UN criticism)... but then again it could also indicate things are happening for the long term rather than short term," one western diplomat told AFP.
Another said: "I have difficulties rejoicing. It seems to be postponing a possible hypothetical liberation."
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which has been denied access to Aung San Suu Kyi, was expected to visit Insein as part of its regular prisons-visit programme next week, the informed source said.
"The ICRC makes prisons open all their doors. It would be impossible to hide anyone in Insein to them," he said.
Meanwhile Khin Maung Win is scheduled to visit Japan on Friday carrying a letter from junta boss Senior General Than Shwe, Japan's foreign ministry said. Japan is Myanmar's largest donor country but has frozen new economic aid in the wake of Aung San Suu Kyi's detention.
An official said Khin Maung Win would be told again that the government wanted to see the immediate release of the democracy icon.