Rangoon locked down ahead of Aung San Suu Kyi trial

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Squads of pro-government paramilitaries were sent to the area around Insein prison in Rangoon and shops were ordered to close as the authorities acted to pre-empt public anger before today’s trial of the Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

According to Burmese journalists in Rangoon the paramilitaries, deployed near government buildings and monasteries, are searching cars and pedestrians, apparently fearing a repeat of the events of September 2007 when tens of thousands of Buddhist monks led anti-government protests that were violently quashed.

The state media have avoided making any mention of the arrest of Ms Suu Kyi, who is being detained in Insein prison after an eccentric American intruder, John Yettaw, secretly swam across a lake to the home where she has been held under house arrest for most of the past 20 years. Internet cafés in Rangoon are reported to be busy as people consult foreign websites for news of Ms Suu Kyi, who is regarded by many Burmese as a hero because of her decades of peaceful opposition to the junta.

Her latest six-year term of house arrest was due to expire this month, and Western governments have accused the Burmese dictatorship of using the current case as a pretext for prolonging her detention.

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