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US Defends Aung San Suu Kyi Hunger Strike Report - 2003-09-03


The U.S. State Department has defended its report that detained Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi is on a hunger strike.

Replying to a reporter's question Tuesday, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the information is based on what he called credible reporting from the U.S. Embassy in Rangoon. Mr. Boucher gave no further details.

In its original report, Sunday, the State Department said the Nobel peace laureate was refusing food to protest her time in what Burma calls protective custody. However, it did not reveal its sources.

Burma has denied the U.S. allegation and human rights groups have said they are not able to verify it.

Earlier Tuesday, UN Envoy to Burma Paulo Sergio Pinheiro said he also cannot confirm the report, but added that he worries about the effect of Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi's confinement on her health and safety.

Burmese authorities arrested the pro-democracy leader on May 30th following a clash between her supporters and government demonstrators in northern Burma. The government refuses to say where the Nobel peace laureate is being held or how long it will keep her a prisoner.

The United States, the European Union and Japan have called for Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi's immediate release and have imposed new sanctions on Burma over the issue.

Information for this report is provided by State Department Press Briefing and AFP.

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