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ICRC 'Deeply Worried' About Burmese Detainees


The International Committee of the Red Cross says it is "deeply worried" about the fate of thousands of people arrested during the recent government crackdown in Burma.

In an interview posted on its Web site Tuesday, a senior Red Cross official, Pierre Kraehenbuehl, said the humanitarian group is seeking access to the detainees, but noted that efforts to reach them have not produced results.

Hours later, Burma's military leaders said in a front page story in the country's official New Light of Myanmar newspaper that nearly 3,000 people have been detained in the crackdown. The report said hundreds remain in custody.

Wednesday's report also said the military government is interrogating those who are still in custody and searching for others. It said that those who "should be released, will be released."

The newspaper also said those who have been released signed pledges. Detained protesters in Burma are frequently asked to sign pledges to not participate in future protests before being freed.

The government's release of numbers detained is the most detailed to date.

In other developments, U.N. special envoy to Burma, Ibrahim Gambari, is in southeast Asia to coordinate efforts in the region to resolve the crisis. He meets Wednesday with Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Malaysia said Tuesday that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will never suspend Burma from the 10-nation bloc.

Burmese authorities put down pro-democracy demonstrations in Rangoon last month, killing at least 10 people. Since then, thousands of monks and activists have been arrested, and many are believed to have been killed.

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