BURMA TROOPS DISPERSE THOUSANDS AFTER NOBEL PROTEST

Hundreds of Burmese riot police and troops armed with machine guns dispersed several thousand people who gathered in the Burmese capital, Rangoon, Dec. 10 after a student protest in support of Nobel Prize-winning dissident Aung San Suu Kyi.A crowd of about 2,000 people gathered outside Rangoon University after troops surrounded and entered the campus to break up a mid-morning rally by students, said diplomats who were reached in Rangoon by telephone. They said the students had gathered to demand the release of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was put under house arrest in July 1989. Her party won an overwhelming victory in May 1990 elections. She was awarded this year's Nobel Peace Prize for her courage in standing up to the ruling military junta. The diplomats said there were no reports of violence or arrests. It was the most significant demonstration in Rangoon since Aung San Suu Kyi's house arrest, the diplomats said. Burma's students led a nationwide uprising for democracy in 1988 which the military crushed, killing thousands of people. The junta has since suppressed open opposition through a campaign of arrests, torture, and intimidation. In Oslo on Dec. 9, nine former Nobel Peace Prize-winners called for world economic sanctions against Burma's military rulers to force them to allow democracy and release Aung San Suu Kyi. "Burma today is a totalitarian state. The military rules by force and terror. Not even a semblance of respect for political and civil rights exists," the nine said in a statement. Burma's military leaders say Aung San Suu Kyi can leave the country only if she renounces politics and never returns.

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