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Burma Releases Dissidents Arrested During Protest


Burma's opposition says the military government has released 43 of 48 activists detained Friday for a protest marking the 20th anniversary of the August 8, 1988 democracy uprising.

Thein Naing, a member of the National League for Democracy in the northwest state of Rakhine, told reporters Saturday that the dissidents were detained while peacefully marching in the town of Taunggok.

He said there was no word on five others, but he hoped the government would release them quickly.

President George Bush met Thursday with Burmese activists and refugees in Thailand. A State Department spokesman, Gonzalo Gallegos, said the president reiterated the U.S. commitment to support Burmese efforts to achieve democracy in their country.

Demonstrations to mark the anniversary of the uprising were held outside the country Friday. Rallies were held in Manila, Bangkok and at a Burmese refugee camp visited by Laura Bush on Thursday.

Armed guards were posted at several important sites in Rangoon, including the famed Shwedagon pagoda, Burma's holiest shrine.

Security has tightened in Burma since the military's harsh crackdown on protests last year in which 31 people were killed.

Millions of Burmese took to the streets in 1988 to protest the ruling military, which had been in power since 1962. The uprising brought down longtime military ruler Ne Win, but the military eventually regained control after a bloody crackdown that left an estimated 3,000 people dead.

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

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