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IPU Demands Release of Jailed Burma Parliament Members

The Inter-Parliamentary Union is calling for the release of 26 parliament members jailed in Burma. The Inter-Parliamentary Union says the Burmese lawmakers include people who have been imprisoned for a long time as well as some who were jailed during the recent military crackdown of peaceful protesters. Lisa Schlein reports for VOA from Geneva.

Members of the Human Rights Committee of the Inter-Parliamentary Union have been dealing with problems relating to Burmese Members of Parliament since 1990.

They say some of the MP's have served their complete sentences. But, before they were released, the Burmese authorities added two more years without any trial or due process.

Senator Aquilino Pimentel of the Philippines, says everyone is aware of the plight of Pro-Democratic Leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. But, few people know that 26 elected Members of Parliament are languishing in prison.

"One half of that, the number of Parliamentarians, were recently arrested in connection with the recent crackdown of activism in the peaceful protest in Myanmar," he said. "So, we would like to make our colleagues in the Parliamentary world to realize that it is not only Aung San Suu Kyi who is being deprived of her liberty, but several Parliamentarians, as well as innocent civilians and Buddhist monks."

Senator Pimentel says the IPU Committee has contacts with people inside and outside Burma who keep it informed about what is happening in the country.

"The latest information I received was this morning coming from some friends in Burma," he added. "And, they informed me that the crackdown continues even in the dead of the night. You know, the thugs of the regime knocking on the doors, even of the monasteries, trying to ferret out the activist monks and bring them to detention."

Burma's military leaders have agreed to negotiate a solution to the crisis with Aung San Suu Kyi, but they have imposed certain conditions for these talks to take place.

The Philippine Senator says the various groups opposing Burma's military government are divided as to whether Aung San Suu Kyi should participate in such negotiations.