Burma opposition leader Suu Kyi faces trial after visit by uninvited American
The military junta accuses her of violating her house arrest after a Vietnam vet swam across a lake to her home.
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The state-run New Light of Myanmar newspaper said that Yettaw had confessed to arriving in Yangon on a tourist visa on May 2. He then swam to the compound the following night "and secretly entered the house and stayed there."
Myanmar official sources said the man had succeeded in meeting Aung San Suu Kyi during his time at the house before he was arrested in the early hours of May 6 while swimming back across the lake.
The newspaper said authorities confiscated his passport and a black haversack, torch, folding pliers, a camera, two US 100-dollar bills and some Myanmar currency notes.
In an editorial, The Irrawaddy, a Burma-oriented magazine in Thailand, says Yettaw is the latest self-appointed savior to dabble in Burmese politics. Other foreigners have joined rebel groups or staged solo protests in order to publicize pro-democracy causes. Some Burmese suspect an elaborate conspiracy to extend Suu Kyi's detention but a more likely explanation, argues Irrawadddy editor Aung Zaw, is that Yettaw acted alone.
The American had also turned up in Thailand; he met with some exiled Burmese groups and reportedly told them he was working on a faith-based book on heroism.
They said he is interested in Burma's plight; that his heart is in right place even if his head is not.
And this is exactly what belies the passion of his action – that he did not think it through; that he did not consider the consequences.
If the regime leaders were looking for an excuse to extend Suu Kyi's house arrest, he has given them one on a plate.
After years of isolating Burma, the US government seems ready to try a different tack, nudged by humanitarian agencies seeking access to a poor, disease-prone population. In March, a senior US diplomat traveled to Burma's capital Naypyidaw and met senior government officials there, The New York Times reported. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has ordered a review of US policy towards Burma, complaining that neither the path of sanctions nor efforts to engage the regime had born fruit.
Another bout of detention of Suu Kyi would further hurt the credibility of national elections due to be held next year, Time says. The military says the polls would be the final step in its road map to democracy. But top posts have been reserved for the military, which is determined not to repeat the embarrassing defeat in 1990. Many opposition activists are in jail and their parties face an uphill battle to campaign freely against pro-government candidates.