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Burmese ethnic groups demand talks
Subject: Burmese ethnic groups demand talks with military, Suu Kyi.
Burmas ethnic groups demand talks with military, Suu Kyi
January 16, 1997
2.04 p.m. EST (1904 GMT)
BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) -- Burmese ethnic groups demanded Thursday that
the countrys military regime scrap its "sham constitutional convention
and open talks that would include democracy advocate Aung San Suu Kyi.
The groups also urged the Association of Southeast Asian Nations trading
group to postpone admitting Burma as a member until it makes political
The statement was made by representatives from 15 Burmese ethnic
organizations who ended a weeklong meeting in Thailand on Tuesday.
The groups said they "ardently support the democracy movement led by Suu
Kyi, as well as the "dismantling of the military dictatorship.
Many of the groups have fought or are fighting now against the regime.
Burma, also known as Myanmar, is unlikely to find lasting peace without
resolving their grievances.
Burmas military regime has cited improved relations with ethnic
minorities as a major achievement of its eight-year rule. The country has
eight major ethnic groups and 135 subgroups.
The government has attempted to devise a political solution through a
constitutional convention. But the body has met only intermittently
since 1993 and has not convened in a year. It lost much of its force
when Suu Kyi withdrew her party in 1995, claiming the body was stacked
in favor of the regime.
Burma has observer status in the seven-nation ASEAN. In November, the
group said it would not admit Burma until Cambodia and Laos are also
ready to join, but did not specify when that might happen.
In a boost to its military rulers, Burma reported Thursday that foreign
companies invested a record $2.35 billion in the country last year.
Since the current regime seized power in 1988, Burma has received a total
of $5.35 billion in foreign investment.
Suu Kyi has called on foreign businesses to halt investment until the
army cedes power. Her party won a 1990 election that the military refused
Winner of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize, Suu Kyi was freed from six years of
house arrest in 1995. Her appeals for a dialogue with the military rulers
have been refused.
[FOXNews, January 16, 1997].