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Burma's Aung San Suu Kyi Hospitalized - 2003-09-18

Burma opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been taken to a Rangoon hospital for an unspecified illness. The Nobel laureate has been held in detention for nearly four months.

Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi was hospitalized late Wednesday for an unspecified gynecological condition. News reports say she had surgery, but details of her situation and her whereabouts are not immediately known.

Aung San Suu Kyi has been in detention since May 30, after a clash between her supporters and pro-government forces while she was on a political tour in northern Burma. Those who have visited her in detention say Aung San Suu Kyi was well and that she did not appear to have suffered any injuries in the clash.

This is the third time she has been detained since 1989, when she was placed under house arrest for six years. She was re-arrested in 2000 during a political trip and freed in May 2002, raising hopes that reconciliation with the military government was within reach.

The international community has been calling for Aung San Suu Kyi's immediate release. The United States recently tightened sanctions against Burma by banning imports from the impoverished nation.

Burma's military leaders have promised to free Aung San Suu Kyi later this year, but have not said when. And the government has refused to resume reconciliation talks with her National League for Democracy party. The NLD clinched a landslide victory during national elections in 1990, but the military government prevented it from taking power.

Burma's political stalemate is expected to be one of the top topics at next month's Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in Bali. Several ASEAN governments have urged Rangoon to free her and move forward on reforms.

The regional representative for the rights group Non-violence International, Yeshua Moser, met with Aung San Suu Kyi earlier this year. He says the political climate in Burma is sensitive now.

"I see it as extremely fluid and dynamic right now," he said. "The military junta, they have no idea what to do. They know they can not release, they can not execute her, they can not keep her in jail permanently."

Burma's Prime Minister Khin Nyunt proposed a "road map" toward democracy, but no timetable has been set.

It has been 15 years since the current military council took power in a coup.