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United Nations Condemns Rights Abuses in Burma

The United Nations General Assembly has issued a resolution condemning widespread human rights violations in military-ruled Burma, and urging its government to release all detainees and political prisoners.

The resolution, which was passed on Wednesday and sponsored by the United States, Australia, South Korea, Israel and many other European countries accused the Burmese government of carrying out politically motivated arrests, and not doing enough to improve human rights and democratic conditions in the tightly controlled country.

It also urged Burma's military leaders to free Aung San Suu Kyi -- the prominent opposition leader and head of the National League for Democracy -- and all other political dissidents.

Burma's representative at the U.N. called the resolution a blatant interference in its internal affairs. He also argued Burma had made significant political strides toward democracy over the past year as it prepares to hold general elections in 2010.

The resolution expressed "grave concern" about the 2010 elections, noting that opposition politicians and members of other ethnic groups have been barred from that process.

The resolution said Burma's political processes are not transparent, inclusive, free or fair.

The assembly also expressed concern with the Burmese government's decision to hold a referendum earlier this year that paved the way for the 2010 vote at a time of dire humanitarian need.

The referendum was held shortly after Burma was hit by Cyclone Nargis in May. The deadly storm left nearly 140,000 people dead or missing and about 800,000 others homeless.

The assembly vote was approved by 80 General Assembly members, while 25 countries opposed it and 45 others abstained. Unlike the more powerful U.N. Security Council, General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding.

They do carry weight, however, because they reflect the views of the 192-member world body.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.