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Aung San Suu Kyi Supporters Detained


Burmese opposition members say a pro-government militia has taken away at least 10 supporters of democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi as they gathered to mark her 63rd birthday and call for her release.

Witnesses say some of the supporters were beaten by members of a pro-government militia before being taken away Thursday. The militia members moved in to disperse a crowd demonstrating outside the offices of the National League for Democracy in Burma's main city Rangoon.

The demonstrators had shouted slogans calling on the ruling military government to release Aung San Suu Kyi from house detention.

U.S. and European leaders today also condemned the Nobel laureate's detention, which has lasted more than 12 of the past 18 years.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice issued a statement today, calling Aung San Suu Kyi's detention "deplorable."

Rice is urging the military government to release the Nobel laureate, as well as nearly 2,000 other political prisoners currently in custody.

The top U.S. diplomat is also calling on Burmese rulers to begin "a genuine dialogue" with Aung San Suu Kyi and other democratic and ethnic minority leaders on a transition to democracy.

The European Parliament today issued a similar appeal and also called for tightening sanctions against Burma.

Also today, Amnesty International called for the release of two political prisoners in urgent need of medical attention. The London-based human rights group says one of the detainees suffers from paralysis and other health problems caused by torture.

Aung San Suu Kyi spent her birthday quietly at her home in Rangoon, where she is largely cut off from the outside world. All visitors are barred apart from her cook and her doctor.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.
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