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REUTERS_22.5.96: THE NLD'S CONGRESS
Subject: REUTERS_22.5.96: THE NLD'S CONGRESS PANICKED THE SLORC.
ASIA: BURMA DETENTIONS RISE TO 80, OPPOSITION SEES MORE
BURMA SECOND NIGHTLEAD
RANGOON, May 22 Reuter - At least 80 Burmese pro-democracy
politicians had been detained since Monday and more could follow as
the military government moved to stop them from holding a weekend
meeting, an opposition source said.
"About 80 have been detained up until now....but 80 is an
open-ended figure, it could be more already because we have a very
slow way of getting the information," a source close to democracy
leader Aung San Suu Kyi told Reuters today.
"They come to peoples' homes and detain them, in some cases they
are put under house arrest. Some are taken from their cars or buses
-- officials get on the bus and tell them to get off, then arrest
them," he said in an interview at Suu Kyi's residence.
As he spoke, Suu Kyi and members of her National League for
Democracy (NLD) party were preparing for a congress of top party
members set to start at her house on Sunday.
Diplomats in Rangoon said the stage was set for a confrontation
between Suu Kyi and the military government but added it was
unclear how far the ruling military body, the State Law and Order
Restoration Council (SLORC), would push its crackdown against the
"She's not the sort of person to back down," one diplomat told
The street outside Suu Kyi's house was quiet, but plainclothes
security men openly snapped pictures of reporters going into her
The source said the meeting would continue as planned, despite
the fact that nearly a quarter of 300 pro-democracy politicians
expected to attend had been detained.
"Some foreign media and foreign businessmen like to think the
NLD is effectively sidelined. This shows we are not," he said.
"It seems that everyone from the districts that were supposed to
come will be detained so that this congress cannot take place," he
said, adding that the NLD had expected SLORC would take such
Neither SLORC nor the official media have commented on the
reports of widespread arrests.
Hotel sources said operators had been instructed, under threat
of punishment, to advise the authorities if anyone affiliated with
a political party registered in their hotel.
Most of those arrested were elected members of the NLD.
At least 44 were from outside Rangoon and were en route or
preparing to travel to the capital for the meeting, which is due to
last two to three days, the source said.
The remaining 36, including Suu Kyi's secretary Win Htein, were
mostly arrested late yesterday in Rangoon.
But a defiant Suu Kyi said yesterday the party was determined to
hold its meeting, and the source said today she was busy planning
the agenda despite the sweeping arrests.
"This is a police state. We are used to it. We are conditioned
to this kind of atmosphere," he said. "Those who are afraid don't
work with us."
The meeting would be the first congress of NLD members, who won
more than 80 percent of the seats in the 1990 general election but
did not take up power because the results were not recognised by
Suu Kyi was under house arrest at that time. The congress would
be the first opportunity for the 1991 Nobel Peace laureate to meet
all the representatives since she was released from six years'
house arrest in July.
ASIA: MEETING POTENTIALLY "DANGEROUS": BURMA OFFICIAL PRESS
RANGOON, May 22 AFP - A planned meeting of the opposition
National League for Democracy (NLD) would be both illegal and
dangerous for those attending, the state-run New Light of Myanmar
daily reported today.
An article carried only in the Burmese-language edition and not
in the sister English-language paper said flatly: "If NLD
candidates decide to meet, it would not only be illegal and
meaningless but also extremely dangerous for them."
It went on to urge NLD candidates not to become scapegoats for
"Mrs. Michael Aris" -- pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who
is married to British academic Michael Aris.
She is completely "influenced by Western groups" and is using
NLD candidates for her own ends, the article alleged.
If NLD candidates really love their country and are confident of
the support of the people, they should wait patiently and take part
in the next general elections under a new constitution, the article
The article was referring to a planned meeting of NLD candidates
who won seats in the May 27, 1990, general elections but who were
unable to take office when the ruling junta refused to step aside.
The meeting, to be held May 26-29 at Aung San Suu Kyi's
compound, is timed to coincide with the sixth anniversary of the
Burmese authorities have detained at least 87 NLD activists in
the past few days in an apparent effort to block the meeting, NLD
ASIA: BURMA FOREIGN MINISTER DENIES REPORTS OF CRACKDOWN
TOKYO, May 22 Reuter - Burmese Foreign Minister Ohn Gyaw today
denied reports that Rangoon's military authorities had detained
scores of pro-democracy politicians, Japan's Kyodo news agency
"The reports were fabricated," Kyodo quoted visiting Ohn Gyaw as
telling a local governor near Tokyo.
A source close to Burma's democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi said
today at least 90 Burmese pro-democracy politicians had been
detained since Monday ahead of this weekend's congress meeting.
"It's difficult to verify what leaders of the (opposition) party
including Aung San Suu Kyi are saying," Ohn Gyaw, in Japan to
attend an Asia-Pacific environment conference in Gunma prefecture,
northwest of Tokyo, was quoted as saying.
The news of the arrests came just hours after Kyodo reported
that Tokyo's ambassador to Burma was working to bring about talks
between Suu Kyi and Rangoon's ruling military junta, the State Law
and Order Restoration Council (SLORC).
Ambassador Yoichi Yamaguchi had twice met Suu Kyi with SLORC's
permission, Kyodo reported.
Yamaguchi's initiative was designed to remove obstacles to the
resumption of Japanese aid to Burma, a move keenly desired by
Japanese businesses, it said.
Tokyo last year partially lifted a freeze on aid to Burma which
it imposed in 1988, prompting Japanese trading houses to flock to
the resource-rich Southeast Asian country.
Suu Kyi has urged foreign countries and companies to wait for
democratic change in Burma before providing aid or making
Her party won a 1990 general election by a landslide but the
junta has refused to honour the result.