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Secrecy Surrounds Aung San Suu Kyi Detention; Efforts Fail to Win Release - 2003-06-23


International efforts to secure the release of Burma democracy advocate Aung San Suu Kyi are continuing. The conditions of her detention are being kept secret by the country's ruling generals.

Japanese Deputy Foreign Minister Tetsuro Yano made a one-day visit to Burma to meet with senior officials, including number three general Khin Nyunt, to press for Aung San Suu Kyi's immediate release.

Aung San Suu Kyi was arrested on May 30 with scores of her supporters in a violent clash that left an undetermined number of people killed and injured in northern Burma. The government blames pro-democracy advocates for the violence, but diplomats say it was started by a pro-government groups.

Japan, the biggest aid donor to Burma, has indicated that money may be cut back if she is not freed. Mr. Yano's visit came as the International Committee of the Red Cross delegation began meeting some of the detained democracy activists.

Magne Barth, deputy director of the Red Cross delegation in Bangkok, said the Burmese government would not allow the delegation to visit Aung San Suu Kyi. "We have been promised access to all those people detained in connection with the events of the 30th of May, except Aung San Suu Kyi, for the time being," Ms. Barth said.

Only one outsider, U.N. Special Envoy Razali Ismail, has been permitted to see Aung San Suu Kyi since May 30. After visiting her at a military camp outside Rangoon, he reported her to be in good health and spirits.

The British government has since said she is being held in a hut in Insein prison.

Burmese officials say Aung San Suu Kyi is being held for, as they put it, "her own protection" and that she will be released at a later, as-yet-undisclosed time.

Burma's military government has repressed Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy Party since it won elections in 1990. The military refused to relinquish power, but has engaged in on-and-off U.N. sponsored dialogue with the opposition. The ruling generals have made vague promises to transition to democracy, but they say only when, and if, it does not destabilize the country.

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