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Red Cross to Visit Burmese Political Prisoners - 2003-06-22


A Red Cross delegation is in northern Burma to meet with imprisoned supporters of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who were detained after violent clashes last month.

A Red Cross official, Alfredo Mallet, said today (Sunday) that the six-member Red Cross team will stay in the area for about a week, checking the well-being of opposition National League for Democracy supporters who were rounded up after a clash on May 30th with a pro-government group.

He said the military government has given assurances that Red Cross officials will be able to meet with anyone they wish, except for the jailed leader of the National League of Democracy, Aung San Suu Kyi. The government says she is being held in protective custody.

However, Mr. Mallet said Red Cross officials expect to see NLD vice chairman Tin Oo, who is rumored to have been injured in the clash.

Meanwhile, Japan says Deputy Foreign Minister Tetsuro Yano will push for Aung San Suu Kyi's release when he visits Rangoon on Monday.

A foreign ministry spokesman did not say what action would be taken, if Burma's military rulers refuse to release the Nobel peace laureate.

Burma's military government says a clash broke out when Aung San Suu Kyi's supporters tried to drive through a crowd of people it says were protesting her party's actions. The military said four people died in the incident.

According to opposition accounts, government-backed "thugs" staged an ambush, attacking the motorcade and killing as many as 70 people.

The United States, the European Union and Britain all have demanded that Burma's military authorities release the democracy leader and her associates.

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