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Two Nobel Peace Laureates Protest Burmese Military Regime

  • VOA
  • Burmese Service

Two Nobel peace laureates joined dozens of activists Friday in front of Burmese Embassy to protest the detention of political prisoners and to push for a UN Security Council resolution condemning the generals who run the Asian country.

The laureates, Shirin Ebadi and Jody Williams, also tried unsuccessfully to file visa applications for permission to travel to Burma and meet with fellow Nobel laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi, who has spent 11 of the past 17 years in detention.

``The people of Burma deserve freedom,'' said Williams. ``It will not happen, though, unless we press the governments of the world to take action.''

A man who said he worked for the Embassy barred the women from entering the building, telling them they were trespassing and calling over a police officer. The laureates, after making a statement to supporters across the street, left the property. The man then blocked off the steps leading to the Embassy with yellow tape. He declined to comment.

``They are afraid from freedom,'' said an angry Ebadi, a human rights activist from Iran who, in 2003, became the first Muslim woman to receive the peace prize. ``I hope that one day all of us will be able to go to a free Myanmar.''

Williams, an American, received the Nobel prize in 1997 for her work to outlaw the use of land mines.

This week, Burma's ruling junta freed nearly 3,000 prisoners, at least 43 of them charged with political crimes, ahead of celebrations marking the 59th anniversary of the country's independence from Britain.

The junta seized power after a bloody 1988 crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators. Suu Kyi, who led those demonstrators, remains under house arrest. Human rights groups estimate the generals are holding more than 1,100 political prisoners.

The United States and other Western countries often criticize Burmese government, which, in turn, accuses outsiders of trying to destabilize the regime.

Information for this report is provided by AP.

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