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Burmese in Thailand Protest Opposition Leader's Trial


Burmese activists have held protests in Thailand as lawyers for opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's prepare to begin their defense in Rangoon.

Protesters marched to the Thai-Burmese border Sunday and called for the international community to press for Aung San Suu Kyi's release.

One of the protesters - Myo Naing of the Burmese Association of Thailand - complained that Russia and China have blocked new United Nations sanctions on Burma.

Also Sunday, Burma condemned Thailand for allegedly interfering in its internal affairs by criticizing the trial.

Thailand holds the rotating chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, which said last week that Aung San Suu Kyi's trial threatens the Burmese government's "honor and credibility."

Burma is also an ASEAN member.

Lawyers for Aung San Suu Kyi say they will begin presenting her defense this week on charges that she violated her house arrest.

The Nobel Prize laureate has pleaded not guilty in a trial that began last week in Rangoon's Insein prison.

The charges stem from an incident earlier this month in which an American man swam to her lakeside residence and stayed there for two days. Aung San Suu Kyi's lawyers say she asked him to leave, but that he was too exhausted and ill to swim back.

She has been under house arrest for 13 of the past 19 years.

Critics say Burma's military leaders want to keep her under detention and away from next year's elections. Her National League for Democracy won Burma's 1990 elections, but the military refused to relinquish power.

European foreign ministers are expected to press for an end to her trial when they meet with Asian counterparts this week in Vietnam.

The U.S. Senate passed a resolution Thursday condemning the trial and calling for Aung San Suu Kyi's immediate release. And United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon said he is planning to visit Burma as soon as possible.

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

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