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Burmese Authorities Arrest 9 Protesters - 2004-05-31


Authorities in Burma have arrested nine democracy activists for handing out leaflets and demanding the release of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

National League for Democracy officials tell VOA that the nine young NLD members were arrested Sunday in three different locations in the Burmese capital, Rangoon, as they passed out copies of the United Nations human-rights declaration.

Public protests are extremely rare in Burma, and are usually quashed within minutes.

The protests took place on the first anniversary of a government-backed mob's brutal attack on Aung San Suu Kyi and her supporters, who were on a political tour of northern Burma at the time (last May 30th).

The leader of the NLD and her deputy, Tin Oo, are still isolated under house arrest, one year after they were detained.

No formal events marked the anniversary Sunday, but some of the Nobel Peace laureate's followers gathered for prayers and made offerings at religious ceremonies.

The U.S. State Department urged Burma's ruling military Friday to agree to a substantive dialogue with the democratic opposition and ethnic groups.

The Burmese government has not responded to such calls, but instead gone ahead with a meeting billed as a national convention to draft a new constitution. The opposition has been unable to put forward its views since the convention began two weeks ago.

Burma's military rulers insist the convention is part of a process that will restore democracy, but Western governments and international human-rights groups have condemned the government-backed meetings as a sham.

Information for this report is provided by AFP and Reuters.

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