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Red Cross Denies Aung San Suu Kyi is on Hunger Strike - 2003-09-07


The International Committee of the Red Cross says Burma's detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is in good health and not on a hunger strike. Red Cross officials met with Aung San Suu Kyi Saturday, the second such visit since she was detained on May 30.

Two Red Cross officials met with Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi Saturday.

They say the detained Nobel Laureate is in good health and denied reports she is refusing food to protest her one-hundred days in detention.

A Red Cross spokesman in Rangoon said there was no request for medical assistance, but adds Aung San Suu Kyi was aware of the reports she was on hunger strike.

Last week, the United States said Aung San Suu Kyi was on a hunger strike and called for international officials to be allowed to visit her.

In a statement Sunday, the Burmese government accused the United States, which has placed additional sanctions on Burma, of conducting a campaign of misinformation.

But diplomats and analysts say U.S. pressure had been a leading factor in the Red Cross getting access on Saturday.

This is only the second time Red Cross officials have been given access to Aung San Suu Kyi since she May 30. She was detained during a clash between her supporters and pro-government groups in the north of the country.

Human rights groups and Western diplomats say government mobs instigated the violence that left dozens of people dead or injured.

Amnesty International says since the incident the military government has arrested more than 100 members of Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy.

The move has dealt a serious blow to U.N.-brokered close-door talks between Burma's general and Aung San Suu Kyi. The talks began three years ago on how to make a transition to democracy.

Most of the parties involved agree the negotiations were slow and failed to address substance. But they eased political tensions as the government began to lift restrictions on the movements of Aung San Suu Kyi and the activities of her NLD party.

Aung San Suu Kyi has been repeatedly placed in detention over the last 14 years. The military government allowed elections in 1990 but refused to hand over power when the NLD won them overwhelmingly.

The Burmese government, under diplomatic pressure from its Asian neighbors, has promised to release Aung San Suu Kyi when what it called the political situation in the country is calm. It has said the situation should be resolved by the next regional summit in October.

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