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Myanmar’s detained democracy icon dreams of tweets

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YANGON, Myanmar >> Myanmar’s detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi wants to get a Twitter account once she is released from house arrest so she can get in touch with the younger generation after years of isolation, her lawyer said Monday.

The 65-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner, who has been detained by the military government for 15 of the past 21 years, entered her latest period of detention in May 2003, before the Twitter era started.

Her detention expires on Nov. 13, prompting speculation she will be freed though there has been no such official announcement from the ruling junta. The country’s first election in 20 years will take place days earlier on Nov. 7, timing that analysts say was designed to keep the opposition leader locked away for the polls.

“Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s current wish is to sign up on Twitter when she is released,” said her lawyer Nyan Win, who has visited her twice in the past week. “Daw” is a title of respect in Myanmar.

“She told me she wants to use Twitter to get in touch with the younger generation inside and outside the country,” he said. “She wishes to be able to tweet every day and keep in touch.”

Suu Kyi has no phone line or any access to the Internet, though she has a laptop computer, Nyan Win said. He described her as computer- and tech-savvy and adept with electronic gadgets.

Under the rules of her detention, Suu Kyi is allowed to read state-controlled newspapers and private local news journals and magazines, to listen to the radio and to watch state-run television but she has no satellite dish to receive foreign broadcasts.

Her lawyers are among the few people allowed to see Suu Kyi, aside from her doctors and occasional visits with U.N. and foreign dignitaries.

According to July statistics from the state-run Post and Telecommunication Ministry, there are 400,000 Internet users in Myanmar — a country of about 60 million — with the vast majority of accounts in the former capital Yangon and the second-largest city of Mandalay.

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