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AP: Democracy Leader says Military

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<
^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 
Suu Kyi.
	   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 
people realize.
	   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