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Aung San Suu Kyi says the meeting a
Wednesday, May 27, 1998 Published at 10:30 GMT 11:30 UK
World: S/W Asia (BBC)
Opposition allowed to meet in Rangoon
Aung San Suu Kyi says the meeting alone is not enough
Several hundred members of the Burmese opposition party have gathered at
the home of their leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, in Rangoon to commemorate their
party's short-lived election victory eight years ago.
This is the first time the ruling military, which seized power in 1988, has
allowed the opposition to mark its victory, which was immediately
leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD), Aung San Suu Kyi,
thanked the military regime for allowing her to hold the meeting, but said
it was not enough.
"It is necessary to honour the results of the 1990 elections and hold the
Parliament session as soon as possible. Let us meet the next time in
Parliament," said the winner of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize.
She again urged the military regime to open a dialogue with the opposition,
a move which she said was unavoidable since the people of Burma willed it
and because, otherwise, the country would never solve its deepening
political and economic problems.
Extra riot police have been posted around Aung San Suu Kyi's home, where
she is under house arrest following her return from exile.
Inspired by Indonesia?
Attempts to hold commemorations in the past have been thwarted by the
military, who detained hundreds of NLD members last May despite
However, commentators say the pro-democracy movement in Burma has taken
heart from the overthrow of President Suharto in Indonesia.
A leader of the NLD who is now in exile, Sein Win, says that the opposition
movement in Burma has been 'very much encouraged' by what happened in
But the head of the BBC Burma section warns that not everybody will know
about the events in Indonesia, as censorship is still tight.
Urged not to hold meeting
Earlier this week the government urged the NLD not to hold the meeting in
the interest of national unity, but it approved the meeting late on
Tuesday, provided certain rules and regulations were observed, which it did
not spell out.
But NLD leaders said that even this year 320 delegates have been detained
in various parts of the country to keep them from attending, and urged
their immediate release. The government has denied this.
Although the NLD won elections in May 1990, the result was overturned by
the military, and many opposition MPs at the time were imprisoned.
Burmese exile groups say the NLD has been decimated since it captured 392
of the 485 seats in the 1990 polls. They say a quarter of the victors have
been imprisoned or exiled, and two have died in prison.
According to the human rights group, Amnesty International, scores of
political activists have been arrested since the beginning of the year,
joining hundreds of others in prison.
Aung San Suu Kyi herself has been under house arrest or close confinement
for most of the last nine years. Her activities are tightly curbed by the