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Reuter: Burmese Rally For A Group C

Subject: Reuter: Burmese Rally For A Group Centred on Self-Interest 


    (Updates with government rally north of Rangoon)
     By Deborah Charles
     RANGOON, May 30 (Reuter) - Burma's military government on Thursday
stepped up its campaign against foreign interference in the country and
staged another mass rally to denounce Aung San Suu Kyi's democracy
     A crowd of about 77,000 people gathered in Hmawbi Township north of
Rangoon on Thursday to listen to speeches attacking the revitalised
democracy movement, an information ministry source told Reuters.
     More rallies were planned for other cities, he said.
     The government-organised rallies were similar to others held over the
past few days where hundreds of thousands of people have gathered to chant
slogans, wave flags and denounce democracy activists and unwanted foreign
influence in Burma.
     Diplomats and other observers say the rallies are staged, with the
military forcing people to attend.
     State-run television shows the rallies at length on news programmes,
and thousands of people sit in orderly rows listening to several speakers,
who make nearly identical speeches at each of the rallies.
     In an interview with Reuters on Wednesday, Suu Kyi denounced the
rallies, and said they were "a comical farce." She said it was widely known
that people are forced to attend the rallies, and she said the people of
Burma backed her democracy movement and wanted an end to military
     The government has also stepped up verbal and written attacks on
foreign interference in Burma.
     It ran slogans in newspapers on Thursday and as scrolling headlines on
television, including "Oppose foreign nations interfering in internal
affairs of the state," "Crush all internal and external destructive
elements as the common enemy" and "Oppose those relying on external
elements, acting as stooges, holding negative views."
     At a rally which state-media said numbered about 70,000 people on
Wednesday, the main speaker accused foreign radio stations of causing
     "Foreign radio stations are also applying the old methods of
instigation as they did during the 1988 disturbances," said Dr Maung Htoo,
Principal of Monywa Degree College. "Centred on self-interest, the group is
pushing the nation into the fire again."
     The military regime, the State Law and Order Restoration Council
(SLORC), assumed power in 1988 after crushing a pro-democracy uprising that
left thousands dead or in jail.
     A commentary carried in all official newspapers renewed an attack on
the Voice of America and British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), both of
which broadcast daily Burmese-language news programmes.
     Earlier this week a BBC Burmese-language interview with Suu Kyi was
cut short when the telephone lines died in mid-interview, Suu Kyi said.
     The commentary said Western nations, which have criticised the SLORC
and condemned recent arrests of more than 261 NLD members, were interfering
in Burma for strategic reasons.
     "Today, we witness sinister designs of foreign nations interfering in
our internal affairs," an editorial said. "We have a message loud and
clear: Do not interfere."