[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index ][Thread Index ]

Reuter: 71 MPs Arrested in Burma

    RANGOON, May 22 (Reuter) - Burma's military authorities intensified
their sweep against pro-democracy politicians on Wednesday, bringing to 71
the number detained, a source close to opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi
     "Up to now the number has increased to 71. Today in Rangoon they
detained Win Htein, secretary to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi," the source told
     The round-up since Monday of politicians from Suu Kyi's National
League for Democracy (NLD) appeared to be an attempt by the ruling junta to
prevent a weekend congress of her party, diplomats and political analysts
     They said Suu Kyi and the military were heading for a showdown over
the congress.
     The meeting will mark the sixth anniversary of its 1990 election
victory which was never acknowledged by the government.
     A source close to the democracy leader said on Wednesday the meeting
would go ahead despite the detentions.
     "Of course, it will go ahead as planned," the source told Reuters. Suu
Kyi also told Reuters on Tuesday she was determined to hold the meeting.
     Burma's ruling military body, the State Law and Order Restoration
Council (SLORC), this week warned the pro-democracy party against any
activites deemed a threat to the stability of the country.
     Diplomats in Rangoon said the stage was set for a confrontation
between the 1991 Nobel Peace prize winner and the military government that
last July released her from six years of house arrest.
     "She's not the sort of person to back down," one diplomat told Reuters.
     "It's fairly clear that both sides are heading for a showdown,"
another diplomat said.
     Some 300 NLD members who won seats in the 1990 election were due to
attend the congress. The NLD won more than 80 percent of the seats in the
poll but the SLORC never recognised the result.
     Diplomats in the Burmese capital said it was still not clear how far
the crackdown against the NLD would go.
     "This has obviously moved things into a new phase but it's difficult
to know what their strategy is," one diplomat said.
     "They might be trying to just keep these people out of circulation for
the dates of the meeting and will then let them go, that's the soft option.
     "The other option would be to throw them all back in prison," he said.
     Suu Kyi told Reuters late on Tuesday she was not ruling out the
possibility that she and other NLD leaders could be detained again.
     "Anything is possible in an authoritarian state," she said.
     She said she was still hopeful that democracy could be restored in
Burma: "I'm optimistic that our cause will prevail."
     Suu Kyi, daughter of the architect of Burma's independence from
Britain, General Aung San, has called for dialogue with the SLORC on
political reform since her release.