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US First Lady Urges Burma's Military Rulers to set Aside


US first lady Laura Bush is calling on Burma's military leaders to step aside, arguing in a newspaper opinion article today - Wednesday that the regime has lost its legitimacy.

In the Wall Street Journal article, Mrs. Bush called Burma's top leader General Than Shwe and his deputies a "friendless regime" and suggested that they make way for a unified Burma, governed by "legitimate" leaders.

She also urged Burmese leaders to stop their "terror campaigns" and commit to a meaningful dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi and other opposition leaders.

Mrs. Bush has made numerous efforts to speak out against the Burmese government over the past year, especially as the situation there has worsened.

Burma's government has been widely criticized for human rights violations, including the extended detention of Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been under house arrest for most of the past 18 years.

Demonstrations are extremely rare in Burma, where more than 12,00 other political prisoners are thought to be imprisoned.

The last major demonstrations took place in 1988. The student-led uprising was directed at the military government and triggered by frustration with the country's poor economy. An estimated three thousand people were killed when the army crushed the protests.

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