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Asahi Evening News 5/28

We're Stronger, Suu Kyi Declares


Asahi Evening News

Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Monday hailed the 
success of a three-day congress of her National League for Democracy 
(NLD), scheduled to end today, and said solidarity has been strengthened in 
the party's fight against a constitution being drafted by the ruling military 

Suu Kyi made her remarks in an interview with Asahi Evening News by 
telephone from Rangoon Monday evening.

"This congress has been of greater success because of what SLORC (the 
ruling State Law and Order Restoration Council) did," she said. "We had a 
lot of international attention."

The government had arrested hundreds of her supporters and elected party 
representatives last week in a bid to block the congress.

"It always happens like that," Suu Kyi said in the interview. "Every time 
the authorities get tough, we get more united."

As for those arrested, Suu Kyi said, "There are indications that they (junta 
leaders) intend to keep them, at least some of them, (in custody) for 
longer than a few days.

"We do not know how they have been treated. We know that at least one or 
two people when they were arrested they were handled very roughly."

According to an Asahi Shimbun reporter in Rangoon, Suu Kyi told 
reporters that two elected party representatives in custody have been 
charged and the NLD spokesman thrown into jail.

 The Nobel Peace Prize winner said the NLD will fight the constitution 
drawn up by the military because it grants the military 25% of the 
parliamentary seats "and also makes military choose the leader."

"Apart from that," she said, "it is not a constitution drawn up by 
representatives of the people."

She has said the NLD congress, one of a planned series to be held, was to 
have discussed preparations for drawing up its own new constitution.

Suu Kyi brushed aside the possibility that the military might try to rush 
through passage of its constitution and vowed to resist firmly, saying, "It 
doesn't matter what they do. Their constitution will still not have the 
support of the people."

She admitted that the two sides seem no closer to having any kind of 

"Of course the possibility for dialogue is always there because there are 
still so many problems," she added.

Suu Kyi had critical words for the Association of South East Asian Nations' 
low-key reaction to the junta's crackdown.

"It is a little inconsistent to say one does not want to meddle with internal 
affairs of the country when there are so many economic ties between each 
country. If you do not really want to meddle in affairs of a country, you do 
not have any economic relations either," she said.

Countries in ASEAN member nations have been stepping up their 
investments in Burma. Burma is scheduled to participate in the ASEAN 
foreign ministers' meeting in July.

"As far as I can see, the investment is helping SLORC and not Burma," Suu 
Kyi said. "The investment that is made does not help the ordinary people. It 
only makes a small elite richer."

She also scolded Japan, one of the few countries that has been giving aid to 
Burma, saying, "I think they have yet to prove that the humanitarian aid is 
actually getting to the ordinary people of Burma."

She admitted, however, there is a limit to the international pressure that 
can be brought to bear on the regime.

"I do not think Burma will be isolated (from the rest of the world), but 
that does not mean Burma will be a healthy and prosperous nation," she 

Asked if she planned any action to mark the first anniversary in July of 
her release from six years of house arrest, she said, "We just do the work 
that we have the responsibility to do."