Protests as Suu Kyi marks 64th birthday in prison

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The Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi spent her 64th birthday in detention yesterday as supporters worldwide condemned her trial and called for tougher sanctions against the military regime.

The Nobel laureate marked the day by sharing a meal of chicken biryani with staff at Insein prison in Rangoon, where she is on trial charged with violating her house arrest. She faces up to five years in jail if found guilty. "She will invite doctors who care for her, some guards and others to her party," said Dr Win Naing, a senior member of the National League for Democracy. In Brussels, Gordon Brown, who was attending a summit of the 27 European Union member states, told a news conference that the EU had agreed to step up sanctions against Burma's military rulers.

Calling Ms Suu Kyi "perhaps now the most renowned prisoner of conscience in the world", Mr Brown demanded an end to her "absurd and contemptible sham trial" and called for her immediate release. Confined for more than 13 of the past 20 years, Ms Suu Kyi's birthday has become an annual ritual inside and outside Burma for campaigners seeking an end to decades of military rule that has left the country an international pariah. The day took on even greater significance this year amid international outrage at the trial. She is widely expected to be found guilty of violating her house arrest by sheltering an uninvited American.