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Amnesty International Calls for Reforms in Burma - 2003-02-11


The human rights group Amnesty International has called on Burma to reform its laws and release political prisoners, even as the military government in Rangoon announced the arrest of 12 more opposition activists.

Amnesty's Asia-Pacific program director, Demelza Stubbings, said today (Monday) that although conditions for more than a thousand political prisoners had improved in the last few years, Burma must scrap British colonial laws used to detain prisoners without giving them access to a lawyer, relatives or medical care.

Ms. Stubbings spoke in Bangkok, Thailand, after completing a 10-day government authorized trip to Burma -- the first ever by Amnesty International.

During the visit (which ended Saturday), Ms. Stubbings and a colleague visited government ministers, current and former political prisoners, and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Meanwhile, Burma's military government announced today it has arrested 12 opposition activists for plotting unrest.

A military intelligence spokesman (General Than Tun) said seven detainees are members of Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy.

The spokesman said the group had distributed anti-government leaflets and had been planning demonstrations and what he called other "disruptive activities."

Members of the NLD have been frequent targets of government harassment and detention. The party won a landslide victory in 1990 general elections, but Burma's military has not allowed to to assume power.

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