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AP-Dow Jones: Suu Kyi Holds Pro-Dem

Subject: AP-Dow Jones: Suu Kyi Holds Pro-Democracy Meeting

Burma's Suu Kyi Holds Pro-Democracy Meeting, Vows More

   RANGOON, Burma (AP-Dow Jones)--Throwing down a gauntlet to the militar=
regime, Aung San Suu Kyi opened an opposition congress Sunday that the
government had arrested hundreds of her supporters to stop - and she vowe=
d to
hold several more. 
   Suu Kyi's speech marked her biggest challenge to the ruling junta sinc=
e her
release from six years of house arrest last July, signaling she would =
no longer
allow the regime to simply ignore her repeated calls for dialogue. 
   Rather than be cowed by a week of mass arrests, Suu Kyi declared at =
meeting Sunday that her National League for Democracy would 'increase =
actions to fulfill the will of the people and bring about national
   Though 300 supporters applauded every sentence and chanted 'Long Live =
San Suu Kyi,' only 17 were original delegates to the party congress, the
opposition's most important planned meeting in six years. 
   At least 238 other delegates languished in detention following a natio=
roundup to prevent the meeting, which marks the sixth anniversary of
parliamentary elections in 1990 when Suu Kyi's party won 392 of 458 conte=
   Another 24 ordinary party members were also in custody, bringing the =
total to
262, Suu Kyi said. Reports that one delegate had died in custody were
   The gathering posed a symbolic challenge to the legitimacy of the ruli=
State Law and Order Restoration Council, or SLORC, which refused to honor=
election. Even before last week's arrests, many victorious candidates =
had been
killed, jailed or driven into exile. 
   Though the meeting might have passed largely ignored, the arrests last=
catapulted Burma back into world headlines and put new scrutiny on the =
courting of foreign companies eager to profit by developing Burma's econo=
destroyed during 34 years of military rule. 
   Wearing a traditional sarong, her hair tied back in jasmine flowers, =
Suu Kyi
indicated the opposition would keep the regime under pressure by holding
several more congresses - implicitly daring the junta to stop her and =
destroy its reputation. 
   'This is no longer a meeting of elected representatives of the NLD,' =
Suu Kyi
said. 'We have decided, therefore, this will be the first in a series =
of NLD
   There was no immediate response from government officials. The
state-controlled press, which ignores Suu Kyi's remarks, reported on busi=
deals and SLORC leaders visiting Buddhist shrines. 
   Diplomats from the United States, Japan, France, Britain and Australia
attended the meeting, evidence of a fresh wave of international support =
Burma's beleaguered opposition. 
   'She is in fact a moderating force,' one diplomat said on condition =
anonymity. 'The problem with this government is that the only way you =
can be
moderate for them is to shut up and keep quiet.' 
   Suu Kyi called for international support and declared that six years =
denied rights and suffering had merely strengthened the appetite of Burma=
people for democracy. 
   The party's chief policy would remain that the 1990 vote be fully hono=
Suu Kyi said. But she held out an olive branch to the SLORC. 
   'We not only invite the people of our country, but also the authoritie=
s, to
join us,' Suu Kyi said. 'Because that is the only way we can bring good =
happiness to our land.' 
   Fears that the government would put up roadblocks around Suu Kyi's =
proved unfounded, and no unusual security presence was seen in the city. =

   Asked by reporters why the meeting was allowed at all, Suu Kyi said: =
always like that with the SLORC. They're not very consistent.' 
   (END) AP-DOW JONES NEWS 26-05-96