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Since 1st March, 1999
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Red Cross to meet jailed Myanmar activists

Yangon, June 17 (Reuters): The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) will be allowed to visit Myanmar’s detained Opposition members, rounded up last month along with pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, the junta said today.

The ICRC said it was pushing for access to Nobel laureate Suu Kyi, held since a bloody May 30 clash between pro-government groups and her supporters, but had not yet received approval from the country’s ruling generals.

The announcement comes amid mounting international pressure on the regime. Today, southeast Asia’s main political group broke with tradition to criticise one of its own, with Asean foreign ministers saying in a statement they welcomed assurances given by Myanmar that Suu Kyi would be freed soon.

Myanmar’s biggest aid donor Japan also said it would cut off assistance if the junta did not free Suu Kyi. The US Senate last week approved a Bill to ban all imports from Myanmar. “The ICRC has been granted access to those who were picked up for questioning about the events on May 30,” an official from the military spokesperson’s office said.

He said the detainees included Tin Oo, vice-chairman of Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD), thought to be held in a jail hundreds of miles northwest of Yangon.

The NLD swept to a landslide election victory in 1990 but was never allowed to rule.

Rumours had circulated after May 30 that Tin Oo had been killed, but family members have said they recently received a handwritten letter from him through authorities asking for medication he regularly takes.

The military official declined to say if the ICRC would have access to Suu Kyi, who turns 58 on Thursday and was visited by a top UN envoy last week. But an ICRC official said they were pushing for access to all those held. “We’ve been given access, but we don’t know if that includes Suu Kyi. We are invited to a meeting with officials tomorrow and hope to find out more,” ICRC representative Michel Ducreaux said in Yangon.

Suu Kyi is believed to be held in a government guesthouse in the capital Yangon.

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