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Bush pays tribute to women of Myanmar, Cuba, Belarus

world Updated: Mar 12, 2008 09:45 IST

US President George W Bush paid tribute to women who have defied the governments of Belarus, Cuba and Myanmar, promising US help as they "stand up for the freedom of their people."

He honored the wife of jailed Belarus opposition leader Alexander Kozulin, Irina, who died of cancer last month, aged 48; ailing Cuban dissident Marta Beatrmz Roque Cabello; and Myanmar democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi on Monday.

"Americans are inspired by the examples of these women," Bush said. "We will continue to support their work, and the work of women across the world who stand up for the freedom of their people."

The US president's remarks came during a White House ceremony marking Women's History Month.

Bush charged that the refusal of the Belarus government -- which he has called the last dictatorship in Europe -- to release Alexander Kozulin to be with his wife on her death bed was "the definition of brutality."

"And the United States calls upon the government to release Alexander Kozulin immediately, just like they ought to release every other political prisoner in Belarus," said the US President.

Turning to Cuba, Bush praised Marta Beatrmz Roque Cabello, saying she had survived Fidel Castro's "dungeons" and that she "knows that freedom is not going to come to Cuba by trading one oppressive Castro regime for another" -- a refereed to Castro's handover of power to his brother Raul.