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BURMA BARS STANFORD TOUR GROUP
BURMA BARS STANFORD TOUR GROUP
San Franciso Chronicle on 1/16/96
VISITORS WANTED TO MEET NOBEL LAUREATE SUU KYI
By Bill Workman, Chronicle Peninsula Bureau
Burma's military junta has barred a group of Stanford University alumni
and professors from visiting this month after learning they had invited
pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi to meet with them in the capital
city of Rangoon.
The Stanford travelers, who include population expert Paul Ehrlich and
retired admiral James Stockdale, Ross Perot's vice-presidential running
mate in 1992, were stunned by the Burmese government's action, Duncan
Beardsley, director of the Stanford Alumni Association's travel-study
office, said yesterday.
The cancellation of the Stanford-sponsored visit comes only a short time
after the Burmese government declared 1996 "the year of the tourist" and
said it was preparing to ease travel restrictions.
"Everything had been arranged, everyone had their visas from the Burmese
government, and then we were told we could not come," said Beardsley.
The decision to bar the Stanford alumni, he added, "had apparently been
precipitated by a letter we sent to Suu Kyi in November," inviting her to
speak to the group while they were in Burma, also known as Myanmar.
Suu Kyi won the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize for leading the campaign to bring
democracy to her homeland. She had been under house arrest for almost six
years until July, when the ruling junta lifted the order.
Her party, the National League for Democracy, won a landslide victory in
1990. But the junta refused to honor the results that were expected to
lead to her becoming president.
The United States and other governments had demanded her freedom as a
condition for lifting diplomatic and trade sanctions.
Beardsley said Stanford officials do not plan to complain to the State
Department because there is nothing in writing from the Burmese government
on which to base a formal complaint.
But he said it became clear a few weeks ago that the Stanford group was
not welcome when Burmese authorities notified the ariline handling flight
arrangements that the tour's Rangoon landing permits had been rescinded.
Stanford officials appealed last week to the government to allow the
visit, explaining the tour group was "not trying to make a diplomatic or
political statement," but that the invitation to Suu Kyi was made
believing she was free to meet with them. Burmese authorities rejected
The canceled three-day visit to Rangoon, also known as Yangon, was part of
a round-the-world trip to begin Friday. It was organized by the Stnford
travel office through TCS Expeditions, a Seattle-based company that
arranges tours for universities, museums and other educational
"It just seems to be part of the (Burmese) government's continuing
anti-West, anti-American attitude," said Theodore Swartz, TCS president.
He said arrangements have now been made to substitute Cambodia's ancient
temple city of Angkor Wat for the Burma portion of the $3,290-per-person