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US, Red Cross press Myanmar on human rights

[JURIST] The United States has renewed pressure [press briefing transcript; recorded video] on Myanmar to release democracy advocate and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi [advocacy website; BBC profile], a US State Department spokesperson said Thursday. Spokesman Tom Casey said that Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Eric G. John [official profile] met with officials from Myanmar earlier this week in Beijing for a "very frank discussion of our concerns about the regime." John used the "opportunity to again call for the release of political prisoners -- not only Aung San Suu Kyi but the thousand or more other political prisoners who are being detained by this government." The State Department on Wednesday urged [press release] the release of 52 activists who were arrested [JURIST report] in May for participating in vigils calling for the release of Suu Kyi, including HIV/AIDS activists Phyu Phyu Thinn. Casey said 51 of those activists have now been released [AP report], but Phyu Phyu Thinn remains in custody. In May, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention ruled [opinion, PDF] that the extended detention of Suu Kyi violates the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights [texts]. AP has more.

Meanwhile, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) [official website] on Friday denounced "major and repeated violations of international humanitarian law" [press release] which are "committed against civilians and detainees by the government of Myanmar." The ICRC noted that the government often forced detainees and civilians to support the military government by acting as military porters or providing housing and food supplies for the military. The ICRC said the Myanmar government's consistent refusal to participate in dialogue forced the "ICRC to take the exceptional step of making its concerns public," adding that the ICRC prefers to achieve positive changes through "confidential and bilateral" means. AP has more.

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