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Reuter: Revived Burmese democracy m
- Subject: Reuter: Revived Burmese democracy m
- From: ider@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Sun, 26 May 1996 10:46:00
Subject: Reuter: Revived Burmese democracy movement forges ahead
261412 :BC-BURMA LEADALL (SCHEDULED, PICTURE)
Revived Burmese democracy movement forges ahead
By Deborah Charles
RANGOON, May 26 (Reuter) - A reinvigorated Burmese
opposition vowed on Sunday to increase the pace of its struggle
for democracy as thousands turned out to support it on the first
day of a controversial party meeting.
Ebullient National League for Democracy (NLD) leader Aung
San Suu Kyi told a cheering crowd of about 10,000 people outside
her Rangoon home that the party would not bend to pressure from
the military government, but would push ahead towards its goal
of democracy for Burma.
"Giving into bullying is not good for...the bully or those
who are bullied," she told a chanting crowd that lined both
sides of University Avenue. "We must have the courage to face
the bully's challenge. I am very pleased and satisfied to see
the people have real courage."
Suu Kyi spoke after the first day of a three-day party
meeting which the ruling military-led State Law and Order
Restoration Council (SLORC) tried to scuttle by arresting most
of the elected politicians due to attend.
Instead of being cowed by 258 arrests, including 238 elected
NLD representatives, Suu Kyi announced at the opening ceremony
that the meeting was only the first in a series of party
gatherings to chart the course of their campaign.
She told a news conference later the party hoped to hold a
meeting of all the NLD members elected in the May 27, 1990,
polls, once they were freed from detention.
The SLORC says it has not arrested NLD activists but only
detained them for questioning in order to avoid "anarchy".
Most Southeast Asian states have kept an official silence on
Burma's crackdown in contrast to protests voiced by the United
States, Britian, Australia and Japan.
The U.S. said on Saturday it was "deeply concerned" about
the arrests and had sent a special envoy to discuss a
coordinated response with European and Asian allies.
Suu Kyi said the NLD, formed in September 1988 but later
intimidated into silence after the detention of its leaders and
hundreds of its supporters, plans a more active future.
"Our party work must increase in momentum. We need to do
more, we need to have the right to do more. We'll have to create
opportunities and do more as a political party.
"As you all know, the authorities tried very hard to prevent
us from holding this conference, but we were determined to go
ahead with it," she said.
Suu Kyi, 1991 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for her
non-violent campaign, has stressed patience and moderation since
her release in July from six years' house arrest.
She said the campaign must now be stepped up, although that
decision was not made to test the SLORC's tolerance.
"We do what we feel we ought to do as a political party. We
have to have patience to a certain degree...but patience does
not mean sitting and taking everything that they do to us. We
have a responsibility to the members of our party, we have a
responsibility to the people who elected us in ... 1990."
The NLD was co-founded by Suu Kyi just days after the SLORC
finally crushed a 1988 uprising against military rule in which
thousands were killed or imprisoned.
The party went on to sweep 82 percent of the 485 seats up
for grabs in the 1990 poll which was called by the miitary
But the SLORC never recognised the election outcome and
instead launched a major crackdown against the opposition.
NLD leaders said they were not intimidated by the SLORC's
latest moves and they were prepared to be re-arrested.
"We have to go ahead with our political work, whether or not
it pleases the SLORC," Suu Kyi said.