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Annan Urges Burma Junta to Release Aung San Suu Kyi - 2003-06-23


United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan calls on Burma's military junta to release pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi from the "truly deplorable" conditions in which she is being held.

Mr. Annan expressed grave concern over Ms. Suu Kyi detention, saying the Nobel Peace Prize winner is being held incommunicado and without charges in a jail outside of Burma's capital city.

In a statement released by his spokesperson, the secretary general urged Burma's military leaders to "heed the calls of the United Nations and the international community, including members of the Association of South East Asian Nations, to immediately release" Ms. Suu Kyi and other detained members of her National League for Democracy. They were arrested May 30 after her supporters and pro-military groups clashed. The government says four people were killed in the violence, but the NLD says at least 70 people died.

The military says Ms. Suu Kyi is being detained for her own protection. But diplomats says she is being held under a law that protects the state from subversive elements. Ms. Suu Kyi has already spent years under house arrest.

Mr. Annan also asked the military to acknowledge that the people of Burma are overwhelmingly in favor of change and to join with all parties to bring about national reconciliation as soon as possible. Ms. Suu Kyi's party won parliamentary elections in 1990 but was prevented from taking power by the military, which seized the government in 1962.

International diplomatic pressure on the military is growing. In the latest effort, Japan's deputy foreign minister said he received only vague assurances that the military would "rectify the situation" after meeting with Burma's military intelligence chief Monday. The European Union and the United States are initiating trade sanctions against the impoverished nation and the EU is freezing the assets of more than 150 officials in the junta.

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