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   RANGOON, Dec 3 Reuter - Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu 
Kyi has vowed to continue her struggle for a popular political 
system in military-ruled Burma -- rejecting government suggestions 
she has been inciting the people to take to the streets.
	   Suu Kyi, speaking to a crowd of about 3,000 people outside her 
Rangoon home late yesterday, said if anyone would suffer in the 
fight for democracy in Burma it would be her and other leaders of 
her group, not the ordinary people.
	   "Since the founding of the NLD we decided to strive in a 
dignified and just way by making sacrifices for the emergence of an 
administration and political system as desired by the people. We 
will keep on working according to that decision," she said.
	   Last week Suu Kyi pulled her National League for Democracy (NLD) 
out of a government-organised convention drawing up the guidelines 
of a new constitution, saying the proceedings were undemocratic.
	   The NLD's boycott of the national convention, which has been 
meeting intermittently since January 1993, was the pro-democracy 
party's most significant act of defiance since Suu Kyi was released 
from six years of house arrest in July.
	   Apparently referring to articles in state-run newspapers 
suggesting she was trying to incite the people to take to the 
streets Suu Kyi said she would never use such a tactic.
	   "Some accuse us of inciting the people to protest on the 
streets. We will never use the method of sacrificing the people. If 
anyone is to suffer we will go to the front to suffer first," she 
told the crowd.
	   In her regular weekend meetings with the crowds outside her home 
Suu Kyi has repeatedly called for patience and restraint in the 
campaign to end 33 years of military rule.
	   Suu Kyi, the daughter of General Aung San, Burma's national hero 
who negotiated independence from Britain after World War II, 
emerged as Burma's principal democracy leader during huge 
anti-government protests which swept the country in 1988.
	   The military eventually suppressed the demonstrations and 
detained Suu Kyi in 1989 for "endangering the state".
	   The NLD won more than 80 per cent of the seats in a 1990 
election but the military ignored the result, insisting that a new 
constitution be drawn up before any transfer of power to a civilian 
government could be considered.
	   The government has insisted that delegates at the national 
convention, the large majority of them hand-picked, include a 
clause in the new constitution which would guarantee the military a 
"leadership role" in politics.
	   REUTER shb

/* -------------" THE AUSTRALIAN: BURMA'S WAR OF NERVES "-------------- */


BURMA'S WAR OF NERVES (by Cameron Forbes)

In  spite  of  the democratic push led by Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu
Kyi, Burma's dictotorship this week took another  step  towards  tightening
its grip on power.

The  young  Burmese  man  is  thoughtful  for  a  moment,  then he mentions
Tennyson's poem 'The Brook'. "Men may come and men may  go,  but  I  go  on
forever."  But he changes quotation "Men may come and men may go, but SLORC
goes on forever."

SLORC - now there's an unfortunate acronym. It conjures  up  visions  of  a
rough  animal  stalking  across the Burmese countryside. SLORC is the State
Law and Order Restoration council, the military regime that rules Burma. In
present international mythology, SLORC is  beast  to  Aung  San  Suu  Kyi's
beauty:  the dictators oppress the champion of democracy; the men with guns
surround the Nobel Peace Prize winner.

This week another act in the Burmese drama was played  out,  with  Suu  Kyi
walking a fine line. She must keep the attention of foreign audience. There
is  no  future  -  and  no  safety  - in being the forgotten darling of the
international community. But she must not  provoke  SLORC  too  much.  When
people took to the streets in 1988, blood ran. Perhaps it would again.

The  young  Burmese  man  had been talking to me about the balance of power
between SLORC and Suu Kyi's democracy  movement.  Perhaps  that  should  be
imbalance.  In  1990,  SLORC  denied  Suuu  Kyi and the National League for
Democracy the victory overwhelmingly won at the ballot box and in July this
year, when SLORC ended her six years of house arrest, Suu Kyi said: "I have
been released. That is all. Nothing else has changed."

And there are things in Burma that remain the same. Teh magical golden dome
of the Shwedagon Pagoda nominates  the  slyline  of  the  capital  Rangoon,
though  distant  impressions  of  serenity  are deceptive. Aroung the site,
where legend has it eight harirs of Buddha are enshrined,  there  are  some
spaces for solitary mediation, but most of the pavilions Buddha has gone to
Disneyland, surrounded by garishness and flashing lights.

Yet the ancient and serious business of prayers goes on.

But  the  business  of  business  has  changed. After decades of travelling
deeper and deeper into the cul-de-sac,  also  known   as  Burmese  road  to
socialism,  the  closed  country  is  open  to  the  world,  and touting. A
government sponsored publication, Spot light on Business  and  Investments,
says  that  SLORC has worked for political, economic and social development
while seeing to the prevalence  of  law  and  order,  community  peace  and

SLORC,  the  surveys  says,  firmly  believes  that  political stability is
essential for economic progress and at the same  time  political  stability
contributes  to  it.  "This  is  the  most opportune time to do business in
Myanmar, making the best use of its natural resources for mutual benefits."

And  this week, while Suu Kyi and the NLD were engaged in a grave battle of
wits  and  will  with  SLORC  over  the  proposed  new  Constitution   that
hand-picked  delegates  are  drafting to guarantee the military a permanent
slice of power, a Korean trade delegation was in town, my hotel  lobby  was
crisscrossed  by  phalanxes  of  Japanese  businessmen and I sighted a lone
Australian Banker.

While some investment flows in, there has also been  a  steady  traffic  of
arms.  SLORC  has  taken  delivery  of,  among  other  weapons  from  other
countries, medium battle tanks and light tanks from China, helicopters from
Poland, ground-attack air craft from  Yugoslavia,  mortars  from  Portugal,
rocket-propelled  granades  from  Israel  and  heavy  duty  and all-terrain
vehicles from Japan.

SLORC 's prime security concern is with the decades-long struggle of ethnic
minorities, in particular the Karen, against  the  central  Government  and
what  they see as domination by the Burmans, who make up nearly 70 per cent
of the population.

But Tatmadaw (the armed forces) turned its guns on civilians and  manks  in
1988  and  this  week  army  chief  Lieutenant-General  Tin  Oo warned that
"Tatmadaw will resolutely take action against and annhiliate those who  mar
or disturb the interest of the entire nation.".

It  was  rhetoric  to  chill Suu Kyi and the NLD who, the previous day, had
been accused by SLORC of actions "tantamount to totally forsaking and going
against the national interests" by walking out of the National  Convention.
But  by  staying in the convention the NLD would effectively have consigned
itself to oblivion and acquiesced in the delivering of Burma to  a  strange
sort of democracy.

The tatmadaw insists on "a leading role in the future political life of the
State".  It will appoint a quarter of themembers of both the lower House of
Representatives and the upper House of Nationalities. It is  sure  to  look
with  much  interest  at the Indonesian system and most likely most elected
politicians will emerge from the Union Solidarity  and  Social  Development
Association it has set up.

Aslo,  the  new  Constitution  bans  from the presidency or vice presidency
anyone who has married  a  foreigner  or  has  not  lived  in  the  country
consinuously  for  the  past  20  years. By an amazing coincidence, Suu Kyi
falls into both categories.

What can she and the NKD do in the face of guns and steely determination ?

There is steel in Suu Kyi, of course, and a sunniness when she address  her
supporters who wait on the footpaths outside her home for her appearance on
Saturdays  and  Sundays.  There  is  much laughter, intense empathy. But at
times, when someone else has the microphone, she seems to be in a  cone  of

When  I  met her in the grounds of her house this week and asked her if she
saw a time when the only option was to call the people  into  the  streets,
she  said she had never wanted to do this and had no intention of doint it.
Which is the obvious and sensible answer.

She also did not want to be compared with Cory Aquino of the  Phillippines,
which  seems,  at face value, the obvious comparison. "I mean, of course we
are both women," she said. "There's a similarity there." But  other  people
in  The Phillippines were fighting for democracy and in eastern Europe, for
example, a lot of men were fighting for democracy. Her point is that it  is
the cause that is important, not the gender.

Aquino's  so-called  peoples' power revolution did drive out a dictator and
restore democracy, flawed though it may be. But the catalyst was teh revolt
of some old-age politicians and the young officers of the Reform the  Armed
Forces  movement.  Without  the  split  in  the armed forces, Ferdinand and
Imelda Marcos would probably have remained in their palaces.

But Suu Kyi says the NLD does not want to encourage a  split  in  the  army
because  it  knows that would mean trouble for the country - and, according
to both foreign observers and Burmese I have spoken  to  here,  the  army's
unity is solid.

One  argument  is that it genuinely believes that in the 1950s the civilian
government damaged the nation  and  allowed  insurgents  to  the  gates  of
Rangoon; it certainly presents itself, through its newspaper, The New Light
of Myanmar, as the guardian of the nation and its peace and tranquility.

There  is  a  rush  to  build new hotels and tart up Rangoon ahead of Visit
Burma Year in 1996 and SLORC is trying to put on a new  face  for  internal
consumption. It is working on its Bhddhist credentials, with Tin Oo Playing
a  prominent role at the funeral this week of a revered monk, Tipitakadhara
Sayadaw, and a long line of military buses ferrying nourners.

But  I  found  fear  in  people  I  spoke  to  and,  according  to  Amnesty
International,  SLORC  shows  little  sign of changing its basic ways, with
1500 political prisoners behind bars and human rights violations throughout
the country.(The regime takes the usual refuge,  claiming  that  there  are
different  versions of human rights standards that vary from one culture to

And according to one observer, SLORC  has  written  off  the  West,  taking
comfort  in  the  warming  relations  with  its Asian neighbours and in the
efforts of the proponents of constructive engagement (  some  of  whom  are
concerned  not  with achieving good ends by pragmatism but with not missing
out on a piece of the pie).

As China is the champion of SLORC, the United States is the champion of Suu
Kyi. Its concerns with Burma is fuelled by its  ideological  drive  to  see
democracy  spread  and flourish - and with the fact that 60 per cent of the
heroin htat goes into  the  veins  of  Americans  comes  from  Burma,  with
production up 15 percent this year.

The  US  has  blocked  most  assistance  to  Burma  from  the  key  lending
institutions - the International Monetary Fund,  the  World  Bank  and  the
Asian  Development Bank. Indications are that SLORC is willing to bear this
and, while the US speaks of increased sanctions  as  an  option,  sanctions
rarely produce result.

Australia,  too,  maintains  a  firm line on Burma, though Foreign Minister
Gareth Evans would have made a visit this month if  a  mutually  convenient
time  could  have  been  found  (  and National Party leader Tim Fischer is
likely to visit Suu Kyi next week.).

One argument is that SLORC  is a reality and thw wourld must deal  with  it
and try to modify the system. Certainly there does not seem to be any quick
fix.  One  Burmese critic of the regime told me it had to be evolution, not

But there are other realities: fear, repression and Suu Kyi. She is playing
a careful and dangerous game and deserves the support she asks for.