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The Hindu News (13/11/96)

Rights groups target Malaysia, Myanmar 
>From V. Jayanth 
SINGAPORE, Nov. 12 Malaysia and Myanmar have come 
under international pressure and criticism for the incidents 
during the weekend. 
While Myanmar has been criticised for the attack on the 
convoy of the Nobel laureate, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, 
Malaysia has been lambasted for the way it handled the non-
governmental conference on East Timor. 
The U.S. and the European Union, followed by individual 
countries in Europe, led by Great Britain, have conveyed 
their displeasure to Yangon and cautioned the military junta 
that if it allows such incidents to take place, sterner action 
may become necessary on the regime. 
Even embassies based in Yangon called for immediate 
action against those responsible for the attack on the 
convoy. japan regretted that the incident had come at a time 
when contacts were being revived between the junta and the 
pro-democracy movement. 
The State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) 
has denied any involvement in the incident and one of the 
officials has made out a case of "sabotage".  He argued that 
the incident had been instigated by vested interests who 
wanted sanctions against Myanmar to come into place.  For 
the administration to incite it or orchestrate it would be 
counter-productive, he argued, suggesting that it was a case 
of sabotage. 
Ms. Suu Kyi has lodged a formal complaint with the police 
and called for action to identify the culprits and bring them 
to book. 
In Malaysia, many of the foreign participants detained at the 
hotel where the East Timor conference was held have been 
deported.  They included two journalists.  The storming of 
the venue by youth wings of the constituents of the ruling 
National Front and the arrest of the participants has evoked 
condemnation from human rights groups and civil rights 
movements around the world.  They accused Kuala Lumpur 
of bowing to please Indonesia and regretted that civilians 
who had gathered for an intellectual discussion on a burning 
issue should be treated like this. 
Australia, the Philippines and Thailand were some of the 
main sources of criticism, because many of the participants 
were from there.  The detained delegates have complained 
of ill-treatment at the hands of the police and alleged that 
they were not even given a drop of water. 
Though the Australian leaders have amply conveyed their 
displeasure at the handling of the event, all of them have 
accepted it as a ground reality and said the participants 
should have realised the consequences of going ahead with 
the meet despite the ban. 
It appears that the protests have been directed more at the 
way Malaysia handled the situation, rather than not allowing 
the conference to go ahead.  As one Australian delegate 
argues, "If we were stopped at the hotel on entry an,, 
prevented from meeting, that would have hen different.  But 
what happened is that about 100 youths from the ruling 
UMNO, the Malay Chinese Association and the Malay 
Indian Congress stormed the hotel conference hall and 
evicted us. The police waited for the youths to finish with 
their task and then took us on to waiting police vans." 
The Malaysian leaders have blamed the delegates for what 
happened, arguing that when permission was refused, they 
had no business to go ahead with the conference or seminar.  
"We did not authorise the youth wings to take any action, 
but we endorse what they did.  The Government had 
nothing to do with the incident," Government Ministers 
Kuala Lumpur has stoutly defended its action and the ban 
on the conference and said it did not want friendly ties with 
neighbouring nesia to be affected because of such a meeting.  
"Countries which want to champion human rights and offer 
solutions to the East Timor problem are free to host these 
conferences.  We have nothing to do with this and made it 
clear that the conference cannot be held," a senior official 
said over telephone. 
Human Rights groups have condemned the action and 
accused Asean, the regional grouping, for blindly toeing the 
line of the member-States without rhyme or reason.  They 
said the human rights situation in most of the region left a 
lot to be desired.  They criticised the Philippine President, 
Mr. Fidel Ramos, for denying entry to the Nobel laureate, 
Mr. Ramos-Horta, to attend a conference on human rights 
in Manila during the APEC summit later this month. 
Indonesia, meanwhile, thanked Malaysia for coming down 
hard on the conference organisers and participants.  
Government spokesmen as well as MPs congratulated 
Malaysia for its "bold" action and conveyed Jakarta's 
gratitude for not allowing a conference of that nature to 
interfere with the internal affairs of the country. 
State media blames Suu Kyi for incident 
YANGON, Nov. 12. 
A commentary in Myanmar's State-run press today blamed 
the pro-democracy activist Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi for 
Saturday's incident in which her vehicle was stoned. 
The commentary in the New Light of Myanmar said Ms. 
Suu Kyi was "tops in committing disruptive acts" and had 
thus brought the attack on herself. 
It also suggested that her National League for Democracy 
(NLD) might contain "dissatisfied people" bent on making 
trouble for their leader. 
"No one can say with certainty that there is no schemer 
among those who in reality plot to sacrifice her as a dual 
stroke to clear up complications. 
"It is evident that Ms. Suu Kyi is being surrounded by 
internal and external enemies.  Mr. Suu Kyi should see the 
closest enemy," the commentary said. 
The NLD leadership wanted to see riots and panic which 
they thought could bring them political gains, but the crowd 
got out of control on Saturday, the commentary said. 
"Ms.  Suu Kyi will get into trouble if she thinks that every 
group she sees is her supporters.  Upon reaching the stage 
of being hit by stones openly she will have to exercise a 
restraint," it said. 
The commentary repeated charges that foreign diplomats 
and reporters had tried to stir up the crowd. 
It also acknowledged a previously unconfirmed report of a 
stabbing incident on Saturday, but said it was an NLD party 
member who had stabbed an outsider. - AFP