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US Asks Burma to Free All Political Prisoners - 2003-11-25


The United States is calling on Burma's military government to release all of its political prisoners, now that five elderly officials of the opposition National League for Democracy have been freed.

A State Department spokesman (Richard Boucher) told reporters Monday that Washington hopes the release of the five will be followed up immediately by the unconditional freeing of all other political prisoners.

Earlier in the day, Rangoon let go a fifth leader of Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy. It lifted restrictions on four others Sunday. All had been detained almost six months.

The Nobel peace laureate herself remains under house arrest in Rangoon.

Party officials identified those freed as Nyunt Wei, Than Tun, Soe Myint, Hla Pe and Lun Tin. All of the five are on the nine-member National League for Democracy central committee. All but one are over 80 years old.

They had been in detention since May 30th, following bloody clashes between opposition members and a government-backed mob in northern Burma.

The government has given no indication as to when the others, including Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, will be set free.

U.S. officials say national reconciliation in Burma depends on the full expression and participation of representatives of the democratic opposition and ethnic minorities.

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

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