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US Dismisses Burmese Constitutional Talks as "Total Sham"


The United States has rejected as a "total sham" the outline for a new Burmese constitution, which emerged from a national convention assembled by the country's military government.

U.S. State Department spokesman Tom Casey on Tuesday said Burma's national convention included only delegates hand-picked by the military junta and excluded opposition groups and ethnic minorities.

He said it was "ironic" that the convention's conclusions, which according to reports keep the military in control and exclude major opposition parties, coincide with a crackdown on citizens for peacefully protesting.

Burmese activists have held a series of rare public demonstrations in recent weeks to protest the government's decision to sharply increase the price of fuel.

Burma's opposition says police have arrested more than 100 activists at the demonstrations. The government says it has detained about 50 people.

In a statement released on Tuesday the Washington-based U.S. Campaign for Burma says 41 detained pro-democracy activists have been on a hunger strike since August 30th.

It says they are demanding treatment for another jailed activist whose leg was broken during his arrest by Burmese police.

The rights group also is calling on Burma's military government to give Red Cross workers access to the prisoners. Authorities have barred the International Committee of the Red Cross from Burmese prisons since December 2005.

Information for this report is provided by reuters, ap and afp

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