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Aung San Suu Kyi Summons Courage of Burmese People

Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi (file picture)

Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi (file picture)

Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi is urging her fellow citizens show courage in the wake of elections that critics say were rigged against the opposition.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner told a group of about 200 supporters in Rangoon Wednesday they need "to be united, to persevere and be courageous." The speech marked the 90th anniversary of National Day, which celebrates protests by Rangoon University students which launched the Burmese independence movement in 1920.

In an interview with the independent Democratic Voice of Burma, Aung San Suu Kyi said the first step toward national reconciliation is to "change the people's mindsets."

She defended herself against criticism over her wish to hold talks with the ruling military junta. She said it would be "senseless" to give up on something that is "righteous to do, just because it is hard to do."

Aung San Suu Kyi was released from detention days after the November 7th national elections, Burma's first in two decades. A party backed by the military won a large majority of seats in both houses of parliament.

Many nations denounced the election as a farce because of election laws that kept many opposition parties and candidates from participating in the balloting.

Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy boycotted the election after refusing to purge her from its membership rolls.