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The Index — May 14, 2009

The Myanmar government arrested and charged Aung San Suu Kyi, the popular democratic activist, for violating her house arrest after a man swam across a lake to access her home. Suu Kyi allowed him to stay because he said he was tired from the swim. He left the following day. Despite being uninvited, both Suu Kyi and the American man, John William Yettaw, were arrested. If convicted, she faces up to five years in jail. Suu Kyi is a beloved pro-democracy figure in the authoritarian country, where she's been under house arrest for the 13 of the last 19 years. Her current sentence was to expire at the end of May. Observers think that the charges are a convenient way for the government to remove Suu Kyi from the public arena during preparations for next year's "elections." The two American reporters arrested for trespassing into North Korea on March 17 will stand trial in Pyongyang in June. The North Korean news agency reported that Laura Ling and Euna Lee, reporters for Current TV, face charges for illegal entry and "hostile acts," which could include espionage. The two face up to 10 years in prison. South Korean legal experts predict the courts will hand down strict sentences, and note that Pyongyang is likely to use the fate of the reporters to negotiate with Washington. A Swedish envoy met with the two women shortly after their detainment on behalf of the United States, but has been denied access since then. Nigerian rebels took about 20 people hostage today after a fight with the military near the oil fields in the Niger Delta region. The rebels high jacked a ship, holding an unconfirmed number of foreigners captive. A source from the rebel group The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) told the BBC that "the hostages will be used as human shields." MEND has held hostage a British man, Matthew Maguire, who was also seized from an oil services boat, since September 2008. The oil-rich swamps in southern Nigeria have been plagued by militant groups who want independence for the poverty-stricken region and a percentage of oil revenues. This latest attack all but ends a year-long ceasefire with the government, under which the Nigerian government offered amnesty to some rebels. Things look to be heating up: MEND warned all foreign oil industry workers to leave by Friday.

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