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Human Rights Group Urges Burma to Release All Political Prisoners - 2004-04-01


A leading human rights group has called on Burma's military government to release all political prisoners ahead of May's planned constitutional convention.

Amnesty International said the human rights situation in Burma remains serious, with at least 13-hundred known political prisoners, and continuing political arrests.

The group says many potential participants for next month's convention are either under house arrest, such as pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, or in prison.

Wednesday, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the only way a constitutional convention could have credibility is for all parties to be allowed to participate, and that Burma's military government free Aung San Suu Kyi ahead of the event. He also urged Rangoon to let all political parties and ethnic groups meet freely and conduct peaceful political activities.

The British foreign office also called Wednesday for Aung San Suu Kyi and other National League for Democracy leaders to be released and allowed to participate in the national convention.

Hopes have increased that the ruling generals in Burma will free Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest ahead of the May 17th convention. The government announced plans for the convention Tuesday, but did not say whom it would invite to participate.

The convention would be the first step in the so-called "road map to democracy" unveiled by Prime Minister Khin Nyunt last August.

Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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