Over 100 people participated in a global day of action at Queen’s Park on Monday in support of Burma’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who is accused of violating the terms of her house arrest by allowing a visitor to stay at her home without official permission.

Suu Kyi, who has been in detention without trial for more than 13 of the past 19 years, had been scheduled to be freed May 27, after six consecutive years under house arrest. However, on May 13, Suu Kyi and her two female caregivers were detained after an incident when an American national allegedly swam across Inya Lake and stayed at her house for two days. If convicted, she could face another five years’ imprisonment.

Her followers say the proceedings are designed to ensure the Nobel Peace laureate remains behind bars during the elections next year. Canadian Friends of Burma believe that the intrusion of the American citizen is either the setup of the Burmese military junta or the foolish behavior of the person in question.

Founded in 1991, the non-governmental organization called on the Canadian government Monday to take strong action should the junta continue to detain Suu Kyi, since she is an “Honourary Citizen of Canada.” They also asked the UN Security Council and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to intervene to secure Suu Kyi’s release as well as the release of all political prisoners in Burma.

Award-winning authour Karen Connelly, who’s written extensively about Burma, said Burma is perhaps the only country in the world where if a perfect stranger trespasses on your property, you are the one who gets arrested and thrown in jail. “Not only you but your caretakers and your lawyer too,” she said. “Unfortunately, we are used to this mind bending, heart breaking behavior on the part of the Burmese regime.”

Since 1988, human rights lawyer Paul Copeland has been actively working with the democracy movement for Burma. He told the group at Queen’s Park that on Monday morning several hundred black shirted protestors defied the Burmese government by appearing outside the Insein prison, where Suu Kyi is being held. Run by the military junta of Myanmar, Insein prison is used largely to repress political dissidents.

Copeland said the trial began Monday and continued for four hours, before being adjourned until Tuesday. Suu Kyi is being prosecuted under the law “safeguarding the state from the dangers of subversive elements.”

“If there is a subversive element in Burma, it is Than Shwe (military dictator and head of the ruling junta in Burma) and the SPDC (State Peace and Development Council), said Copeland. “The judiciary in Burma is a scandal.”

Copeland noted that the Harper government has been much stronger on the Burma issue than either the Chrétien, Martin or Dion governments. Under the Special Economic Measures Act (SEMA), Harper imposed sanctions on Burma and granted honourary citizenship to Suu Kyi.

Burma, officially the Union of Myanmar, is the largest country by geographical area in mainland Southeast Asia, or Indochina. It’s culture is heavily influenced by its neighbours.

“China is the key to the democratic solution in Burma,” he said. “Unless China takes some action, the Burmese military dictatorship is likely to continue in existence.”

Click here to see photos from the action at Queen’s Park

John Bonnar

John Bonnar is an independent journalist producing print, photo, video and audio stories about social justice issues in and around Toronto.