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AP: Democracy Leader says Military
- Subject: AP: Democracy Leader says Military
- From: strider@xxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Sun, 25 Feb 1996 05:05:00
Received: (from strider) by igc4.igc.apc.org (8.6.12/Revision: 1.16 ) id FAA13222; Sun, 25 Feb 1996 05:04:55 -0800
Date: Sun, 25 Feb 1996 05:04:55 -0800
Subject: AP: Democracy Leader says Military has failed to break movement
^Democracy Leader says Military Has Failed to Break Her Movement<
^AP Photo NY190<
^By ROBERT HORN=
^Associated Press Writer=
RANGOON, Burma (AP) Ñ BurmaÕs democracy movement is gaining
strength behind the scenes, despite a campaign of arrests and
intimidation by the military government, says dissident leader Aung San
ÒThe National League for Democracy is not a spent force,Ó the
1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner said of her political party during a
recent interview with The Associated Press.
However, it is getting harder for Mrs. Suu Kyi to send that
message. The military has told foreign leaders and diplomats, such as
Australian Prime Minister Gareth Evans, that they are not welcome in
Burma to see Mrs. Suu Kyi.
ItÕs a stark change from the heady days last July when the
military suddenly released the 50-year-old party leader after six years
of house arrest. Hopes were high that BurmaÕs leaders might finally be
prepared to loosen their grip on power.
Mrs. Suu Kyi called for a dialogue but the government spurned
the demand. In November, she pulled her party out of a constitutional
convention that democracy advocates labeled a sham. The generals
responded with a crackdown, arresting several of her supporters.
Some say time is now working against the democracy movement
and Mrs. Suu Kyi is losing credibility. Meanwhile, the military is
arming itself, using funds from foreign investment.
But the elegant woman people simply call ÒThe LadyÓ said
people are increasingly turning to the NLD, which is rebuilding into a
more unified and effective organization.
NLD delegations from around the country regularly travel to
Mrs. Suu KyiÕs home to discuss strategy and tactics. She has met with
thousands of representatives from villages.
ÒWe all sit down on the floor, mainly because, as you can see,
we donÕt have enough chairs,Ó Mrs. Suu Kyi said, laughing.
She was forced to sell most of her furniture to survive during
her arrest. Today, her home is largely bare except for a few tables and
photos of her father, BurmaÕs independence hero Aung San, who was
assassinated in 1947, and her mother.
NLD Vice-Chairman Tin Oo said the party is building a
political, social and administrative network to counter the
governmentÕs. Villagers are asked to work with local NLD legal aid,
health and education committees.
Simply because outsiders canÕt see whatÕs happening, Mrs. Suu
Kyi stressed, doesnÕt mean there is no progress.
ÒPeople never admit that when they say they want to see
something happening, what they really mean is that they want to see
people pouring out into the streets demanding democracy,Ó she said.
That wonÕt work, she said. In 1988 the army killed thousands
of unarmed demonstrators, firing freely into crowds of university
students, schoolchildren and medical workers.
ÒAfter I was arrested in 1989, there were no demonstrations,Ó
Mrs. Suu Kyi said. ÒMost observers came to the conclusion that the NLD
was not going to win (the 1990 elections), because obviously the people
were not supporting us enthusiastically.Ó
Her party captured 80 percent of the vote, but the military
government refused to honor the outcome and jailed many elected
The recent wave of arrests, NLD leaders said, is proof that
their movement is growing, not dwindling.
While the military leaders appear confident in the economic
future, NLD leaders believe the economy will deteriorate, turning the
tide in their favor. Economic hardships helped spark the 1988 uprising.
ÒIt is becoming increasingly obvious that (the government)
hasnÕt succeeded with their economic policies,Ó Mrs. Suu Kyi said.
Several economists agree, saying the military government is
selling off the countryÕs diminishing natural resources to raise money
for massive arms purchases. Economic failure, they say, is closer than
ÒThe Burmese people know how to bide their time,Ó Mrs. Suu Kyi
said. ÒThey know when they have to wait. They know when they have to
act. This is exactly how we want them to be.Ó