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Burma Releases Democratic Opposition Members - 2002-01-09

Burma's military government has released from detention five more members of the democratic opposition, including the cousin of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The government in Rangoon announced Wednesday it has freed five members of the opposition National League for Democracy and that all are in good health and back with their families.

The five include Cho Aung Than, the cousin of NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

However, Aung San Suu Kyi, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to bring democracy to Burma, continues to be held under house arrest. She has been confined since attempting to defy a travel ban outside the capital nearly 16 months ago.

Burma's ruling generals have now released 207 political prisoners from detention since October 2000, when they began secret U.N. mediated talks with the opposition.

Neither side has openly discussed the content of the sporadic dialogue, aimed at ending more than a decade of political hostilities. But the prisoner releases have been one of the more tangible signs of an easing in tension.

The stand off began in 1990 when the military refused to recognize that the NLD overwhelmingly won general elections. The government has consistently thwarted any attempts at democratization and has penalized the democratic opposition with arrest, house detention and restrictions on movements and efforts to assemble.