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Burma's Suu Kyi Gives First Parliament Speech

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Burma's Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi asks a question during a regular session of the parliament at Burma's Lower House, July 25, 2012, in Naypyitaw.

Burma's Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi asks a question during a regular session of the parliament at Burma's Lower House, July 25, 2012, in Naypyitaw.

Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has used her first speech in parliament to call for laws protecting the rights of the nation's ethnic minorities.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner spoke Wednesday, urging equal rights for all ethnic groups as part of Burma's transition to democracy.

"To become a truly democratic union with a spirit of the union, equal rights and mutual respect, I urge all members of parliament to discuss the enactment of the laws needed to protect equal rights of ethnicities," she said.

Aung San Suu Kyi's was elected to parliament earlier this year, marking a new phase in her long struggle to bring democracy to her homeland, after she spent nearly 15 years in detention under the nation's military rule.

Her party, the National League for Democracy, is now a mainstream political party, following Burma's landmark April elections and other sweeping changes by the new, nominally civilian government.

Aung San Suu Kyi has spoken out in the past in support of ethnic minorities including the Shan, Karen and Kachin. She has been relativily quiet on the situation in western Rakhine state where longstanding tensions between the Buddhist Rakhines and Muslim Rohingyas erupted into communal violence.

The Burmese government regards Rohingya Muslims as illegal immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh.

Amnesty International has said hundreds of Muslims have been arrested and held incommunicado during massive security sweeps through Rohingya areas.

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