BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) _ Amnesty International called on Myanmar's military government on Thursday to release political prisoners and improve human rights as an emotional democracy anniversary approaches.

``We hope that you will begin to defuse possibilities for conflict by taking immediate steps towards improving the human rights situation,'' said Pierre Sane, Amnesty's secretary-general, in an open letter to Gen. Than Shwe, leader of the military government.

Sane denounced political arrests and increased surveillance of opposition leaders, an apparent reference to the recent beatings of members of jailed democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's party by government security forces as they tried to visit her compound.

Aug. 8 will be the 10th anniversary of the day when millions of people across Myanmar, then called Burma, demanded an end to 26 years of military rule.

The military responded with brutal force, gunning down at least 3,000 protesters, including Buddhist monks, and jailing thousands of others.

Rumors of planned civil disobedience inside Myanmar on the anniversary have been circulating in exile communities in Bangkok, the capital of neighboring Thailand.

Sane also called for an end to government repression against candidates who won a 1990 election the military refused to honor.