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Sunday, August 8, 1999 Published at 13:31 GMT 14:31 UK

World: Asia-Pacific

Protests mark Burmese crackdown anniversary

Students are demanding the military junta relinquish power

Exiled Burmese students in the Thai capital, Bangkok, have held a demonstration outside the Burmese embassy to mark the 11th anniversary of the military's brutal suppression of the pro-democracy uprising in Burma.

[ image: Aung San Suu Kyi: Calls for reconciliation]
Aung San Suu Kyi: Calls for reconciliation
They called for democracy and the release of hundreds of political prisoners held in Burmese jails.

They also criticised the Association of South-East Asian Nations (Asean) for its policy of "constructive engagement" with the military government in Burma.

A statement said human rights violations were worse than ever despite the policy.

Lost touch

"It proves that the Asean policy is wrong and has lost touch with the Burmese people's real needs," it said.

[ image: Burma's military has an iron grip on the country]
Burma's military has an iron grip on the country
In Burma itself, the anniversary was reported to be passing off peacefully and the capital, Rangoon, was described as calm.

Correspondents say no extra security measures appear to have been taken by the authorities.

On the eve of the anniversary, the Burmese opposition leader and Nobel peace prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi, called for national reconciliation, saying soldiers need not fear retribution from a civilian government.

Work together

She said the army and the Burmese people should "work hand in hand to achieve democracy, where the people govern the country."

[ image: Students in Japan joined the protests]
Students in Japan joined the protests
But the military government is showing no signs of giving up power.

Human rights groups say as many as 3,000 protesters were killed when the military moved to crush pro-democracy demonstrations on 8 August 1988.

Elections were held two years later but the junta refused to relinquish power to the National League for Democracy which won an overwhelming majority of the vote.

On Thursday Burmese activists disclosed details of a plan to cause civil unrest on 9 September, or 9/9/99, a date which is believed to be significant.

Monks and students say they are planning acts of disobedience to encourage a "revolution."

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