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Burma Ignores Nobel Calls to Free Aung San Suu Kyi - 2001-12-10

Burma's military government has ignored calls from Nobel peace prize winners to free opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Rangoon says it is working with the opposition to create a "functioning democracy" in the country.

Burma's military government says it is working with the country's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to settle their decade-long political deadlock. In a statement, the government also says both sides are walking on the same path toward the common objective of creating a "functioning democracy."

The comments come in response to a call Saturday from more than 30 Nobel Peace Prize winners for the release of their fellow laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi.

Aung San Suu Kyi, who won the Peace Prize in 1991, has been detained under house arrest since September last year after she and her supporters attempted to travel outside the capital, Rangoon. She has spent most of the past decade under house arrest, with brief periods in which she has been allowed to leave her home.

The military has been in power in Burma since 1962. The present group of generals refused to hand over power to Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party, despite its landslide victory in the 1990 general elections.

In the past year, the government and Aung San Suu Kyi have been conducting U.N.-brokered talks in a bid to reach a settlement of a future government. Since the start of the talks, the government has released dozens of political prisoners and reopened some offices of the National League for Democracy. But the human rights group Amnesty International says that more than 1,500 political prisoners are still detained in Burma.