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Burma Blocks Dissident's Meeting

Burma Blocks Dissident's

                     Sunday, January 19, 1997 2:28 pm EST 

                     RANGOON, Burma (AP) -- The military government said
Sunday that
                     a senior pro-democracy leader was blocked from meeting
                     at Rangoon's holiest shrine to prevent him from staging
a political

                     Tin Oo, vice chairman of the National League for
Democracy led by
                     Aung San Suu Kyi, went to the gilded Shwedagon pagoda
on Saturday
                     to meet about 30 party supporters. 

                     A half-dozen police and soldiers blocked him from
climbing stairs to
                     the pagoda's terrace, where the supporters were
gathered, and he left
                     after 15 minutes. 

                     A statement from military intelligence Sunday said that
                     pagoda trustees'' did not believe assertions by Tin Oo
that his
                     intentions were ``purely religious.'' 

                     Tin Oo has taken an increasingly high-profile role in
rallying Suu
                     Kyi's supporters, who have been prevented for five
months from
                     attending once-customary rallies outside her home. 

                     Suu Kyi, 1991 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, has been
                     stymied from meeting large crowds since student protests in
                     December, the most important unrest since the 1988
                     uprising was crushed by soldiers who gunned down

                     Occasional attempts to hold rallies have been made at a
                     intersection. But Tin Oo's efforts to speak to
supporters there Jan.
                     11-12 were cut short by security officials. 

                     Suu Kyi's car was attacked by a government mob while
heading to the
                     same intersection in November. 

                     ``The local ward people are very much distressed by the
                     gatherings and decided not to allow such events from
taking place in
                     their ward,'' the military statement said. 

                     Earlier Saturday, the ruling State Law and Order
Restoration Council
                     announced that 20 people had been sentenced to
seven-year prison
                     terms after secret trials for inciting the December

                     None were identified by name. The government said six
were NLD
                     members. While Suu Kyi voiced support for the students,
she insists
                     that her party had no role in their protests, which
fizzled after classes
                     were suspended Dec. 11. 

                     The military has ruled Burma since 1962. Suu Kyi,
daughter of
                     independence hero Aung San, was propelled to the
leadership of the
                     pro-democracy movement in 1988. Her supporters won
                     elections in 1990 that the regime refused to honor. 

                     Suu Kyi was freed from six years of house arrest in
1995, but scores
                     of her supporters have been imprisoned. The regime
rejects her calls
                     for a dialogue. It has kept a tight lid on dissent
while opening Burma's
                     once-isolated economy to market forces. 

                                © Copyright 1997 The Associated Press