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Daw Suu's Letter from Burma #31 (r)
At 08:51 AM 6/24/96, you wrote:
>From: Carol Schlenker & Aung Thu <carol@xxxxxxx>
>Mainichi Daily News, Monday, June 24, 1996
>LIFE IS SELDOM DULL FOR THOSE WHO DISAGREE
>"A Dissident's Life"
>Letter from Burma (No. 31) by Aung San Suu Kyi
> Life is seldom dull for dissidents in Burma. I just looked up "dissident"
>in three different dictionaries and the definition I like best is "one who
>disagrees with the aims and procedures of the government." That about sums
>up the position of the National League for Democracy (NLD) and others
>working for democracy in Burma: We disagree with the present aims and
>procedures of the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC). Agreeing
>to disagree is a prerogative only of those who live under a democratic
>system. Under an authoritarian regime, disagreeing can be seen as a crime.
>This makes life for us rather difficult. Sometimes dangerous. But
>certainly not dull.
> The main issue on which we disagree with SLORC is the matter of promises.
>We hold that a promise given to the nation should be honored, not cast aside
>with a shrug and a sneer when "it no longer suits" them. When the military
>regime took over power in September 1988 it announced that it had no
>intention of governing the country for a long period. It would assume the
>responsibility of bringing genuine multiparty democracy to Burma and power
>would be transferred to the party that proved victorious in "free and fair
>elections." The elections of May 1990 were hailed as one of the freest and
>fairest ever and the NLD won 82 percent of the seats. As this was not the
>result SLORC had expected it decided to forget its earlier promise and
>brought out Notification 1/90 (another nice Orwellian touch), according to
>which the job of the elected representatives was merely to draw up a state
>constitution. But once the NLD and other political parties had been made to
>sign an undertaking to abide by this notification, SLORC proceeded to
>organize a National Convention in which less than one fifth of the delegates
>were elected representatives of the people. The duty of the convention was
>to endorse the basic principles of the state constitution which had been
>laid down by the authorities without reference to public sentiment.
> It has been recognized by successive resolutions of the United Nations
>General Assembly that the will of the people of Burma expressed through the
>elections of 1990 remains valid. In May, on the sixth anniversary of the
>elections, the NLD decided to organize a conference of its elected
>representatives. This would have been a simple enough matter in countries
>where political parties are allowed to operate as genuine political
>organizations. Not so in Burma. Even the day to day running of an NLD
>office requires perseverance, patience, ingenuity and cool nerves. To begin
>with, a landlord who rents out office space to the NLD is told that his
>house or apartment could be sealed off or confiscated at any time the
>authorities consider that the activities of the party justify such a move.
>Thus finding a place to use as a party office is the first hurdle that has
>to be overcome, giving members of the NLD much practice in political
>education and friendly persuasion. In some places the NLD was obliged to
>move its office several times because of pressure exerted on landlords. In
>others the NLD was made to shift its office from a main road to a back
>street so its presence would not be so obvious.
> The presence of an NLD office is generally made known by its signboard.
>When political parties were allowed to register with the Multi-Party
>Elections Commission in 1988 they were also allowed to put up party
>signboards on the exterior walls or perimeter of their offices. But after a
>few months during which bright red and white NLD signboards blossomed all
>over Burma from big cities to forgotten little hamlets deep in the
>countryside, it was announced that no party signboards should be put up in
>offices at the village and ward level. The reason given was that a
>multiplicity of party signs in small villages and wards would lead to
>clashes among members of the respective parties. This was unconvincing as
>no such clashes had taken place and in many little villages and wards the
>NLD was the only party with an office and a signboard. We discussed the
>matter with the commission and a compromise was reached. Signboards would
>be allowed in village and ward offices which had already put them up, or
>sent in applications to put them up before, if I remember the date
>correctly, Dec. 16, 1988.
> But there are still villages and wards where the decision of the commission
>has been ignored by the local authorities and NLD offices are still
>continuing the struggle to be allowed to put up signboards outside their
>usually very modest premises. There are places where NLD offices have been
>told to reduce the size of their signboards. There have been cases where
>local authorities have objected to NLD offices putting back signboards that
>had been temporarily removed for renovation. There have been instances of
>local authorities forcing NLD offices to remove their signboards; recently
>in some towns in the Irrawaddy Division, members of the local Red Cross and
>the Union Solidarity and Development Association have joined in these
>operations. Where else in the world has the matter of a party signboard
>turned into an open-ended saga?
>* * *
>(This article is one of a yearlong series of letter. The Japanese
>translation appears in the Mainichi Shimbun the same day, or the previous
>day in some areas.)
Dear Ko Aung Thu,
Regarding to the death of Mr. Nichols, all are waiting for futher medical
report. We have to wait . May be we will get some proof of torture.
Farthermore, it is sure ASSK will attend the service. There can be
confrontation on that day too. NCGUB have issued a statement today. I will
get intouch with you for that.