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The siege within: Heavy security ke
Subject: The siege within: Heavy security keeps Suu Kyi ensnared and isolated
The siege within: Heavy MI security keeps Suu Kyi ensnared and
The Asian Age (31/10/96)
By Robert Horn
Rangoon, Oct. 30: Passers-by quickly duck into doorways as
plainclothes policeman fan out along a busy Rangoon road. A
truckload of soldiers, Rifles at the ready, eye the area. Suddenly, a
police car appear, followed slowly by a white sedan with windows
tinted pitch black.
Ms Suu Kyi is here. Burma's pro-democracy leader is surrounded
these days by security heavier than that 0f most heads of state. But
it isn't meant for her protection. The security is meant to isolate Ms
Suu Kyi to keep her away from the Burmese people.
The soldiers are there on the orders of the junta that rules Burma,
and that repeatedly threatens to "annihilate" the 51-years-old Nobel
Peace Price winner. Burma's generals denied a statement by one of
her aides last week that the military was restricting her movements
to her home . But the generals have their own concept of freedom.
No one sees Ms Suu Kyi except for a small circle of family and
advisers. Heavily-armed, short-tempered soldiers block the roads to
her lakeside compound. Her telephone line has cut. As she is driven
about town, she is invisible behind the smoked glass windows of
Ms Suu Kyi never tell her driver where she is planning to go.
Although she sometimes rides with party leaders, she never
discusses political work in the car. When a journalist managed to
run past the police and approach Ms Suu Kyi's sedan, she refused to
roll down the window.
"My driver is MI" she latter explain. MI short for military
intelligence, the pervasive network of secret police and informers
that spins a web of fear, ensnaring a nation in perpetual paranoia.
There are many groups opposed to military rule in Burma, included
non-violent democrats, ethnic insurgents and students
revolutionaries. But their forces are fragmented, cut off from each
other by the intelligence apparatus. Planning's and coordination are
difficult. No one is sure who to trust. No one is sure who spying for
The MI "are everywhere," said a former member of Ms Suu Kyi's
party. "They are even in her house." Across from Ms Suu Kyi's
home the MI has rented a villa from which it photographs her
compound. The men inside her gate recording the names of the
visitors are MI. Her personal bodyguards are MI.
Mr. Kyi Maung, the 78-year-old vice-chairman of Ms Suu Kyi's
party who was picked up for questioning on October 23 and
released on Monday, never asked for an MI detail. Nonetheless, one
watches his home every day, photographing visitors. There also are
agents stationed by the house of the party's other vice-chairman, 69-
year-old Tin Oo.
Late some nights, truckloads of soldiers have pulled up to their
homes. Troops jumped out, rifles loaded, sweeping in all directions
in search of some unseen enemy. There are no known guerrilla
infiltrators in Rangoon. But there are "axe-handles of the
imperialists" as generals call Western diplomats and journalists.
Some visit Mr Maung and Mr Oo in the evenings. As a group of the
them left Mr Maung's home in a car one night, a sedan full of MI
men immediately followed.
"They moved as in a thriller chases," a state-run newspaper said of
the pursuit. But the diplomats, simply lost in the dark labyrinth of
roads, were laughing while the MI, convinced they were trying to
escape, grew furious.
As such one was dropped off, MI men followed on foot, lurking in
the shadows, until they could dart forward and photograph the
foreigners. Ms Suu Kyi, in a recent newspaper column, estimated
the MI spends 80 to 90 per cent of its time, energy and money
spying on her party.
Colonel Kyaw Thein, a high-ranking intelligence officer and
government spokesman, said a settlement with Ms Suu Kyi and her
colleagues is not what the military has in mind. The colonel is a
firm believer that "there is no need for an Opposition," in Burma.
With nearly 1,000 arrests of democracy activists this year, his
agents are doing their best to make sure there isn't one. (AP)