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Associates Fear Aung San Suu Kyi Sick But Hunger Strike Report Still Not Proven - 2003-09-03


Close associates of Aung San Suu Kyi are looking for proof of a U.S. claim that the jailed Burmese opposition leader is on a hunger strike.

Members of Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi's political party said Wednesday they fear the pro-democracy campaigner's health may be failing, more than three months after Burma's military government placed her under what it calls protective custody.

But the associates told news agencies they still cannot verify a U.S. State Department report that she is refusing food to protest her detention.

The United States has acknowledged it has no first-hand information about the Nobel peace laureate's situation or condition, because she is being isolated from the world community.

But the State Department says it is based on credible reporting from the U.S. embassy in Rangoon. Burma has denied the allegation of a hunger strike.

On Wednesday, the French news agency quoted a family friend as saying Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi has a habit of fasting, but currently is eating meals. However, Burmese exiles in Thailand told Reuters news agency they believe she is not eating and is receiving medical care.

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 she is being held or how long it will keep her a prisoner.

In Washington Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said the Bush administration will be relentless in its attempts to win the release of Aung San Suu Kyi. Mr. Powell called on Rangoon to allow her complete freedom of movement.

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