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ASEAN Condemns Burma's Suspension of Red Cross Prison Visits


The Association of Southeast Asian Nations has condemned a decision by Burma's military government to stop allowing International Red Cross teams to visit Burmese prisons and labor camps.

In a statement issued Tuesday, ASEAN's Inter-Parliamentary Burma Caucus says, without Red Cross monitoring, conditions in Burma's 90 prisons and labor camps could deteriorate.

Earlier this week, a Red Cross spokeswoman said Burmese authorities are now insisting that agencies controlled by the military government must join Red Cross observers on any prison visits - a condition that the Red Cross says would make it
impossible to get an independent view of conditions in the jails.

International Red Cross representatives have visited Burmese security detention centers more than 450 times since 1999, to check on prisoners' treatment and deliver medicine, soap and other supplies.

Human-rights groups say the military junta that has controlled Burma for more than 40 years has more than one thousand political prisoners in custody.

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