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Editorial & Opinion : EDITORIAL: Au

Subject: Editorial & Opinion : EDITORIAL: Aung San  Suu Kyi must fight on 

Editorial & Opinion 

      EDITORIAL: Aung San
      Suu Kyi must fight on

      It was good to hear straight from the horse's
      mouth. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has not
      given up. In fact, she has given an upbeat
      assessment of her party, the National
      League for Democracy, despite the military
      junta's efforts to subjugate her party and
      coerce its members to resign en masse. 

      The junta's tactics in the end will not work. In
      due course, former NLD members will
      return to NLD - no matter how hard the junta
      tries. In a direct challenge to the State
      Peace and Development Council (SPDC),
      the junta's official name, the Nobel peace
      laureate set up a committee recently to act
      in the absence of parliament. Her party won
      by a landslide the 1990 elections but the
      junta did not respect the election results. 

      In the past 10 years, Rangoon's military
      rulers have used a variety of measures to
      discredit NLD. Continued harassment of
      851 NLD members through detention and
      intimidation has not weakened the party.
      The junta leaders have propagated that
      NLD is near its end because of mass
      resignations and closing down of local

      The international community, including
      Asean, has urged both sides to hold a
      dialogue of national reconciliation. So far, it
      has not happened. Meanwhile, Asean is in
      disarray because of the ongoing economic
      crisis. Differences in perceptions have
      surfaced and could further mar their

      The junta has refused to hold talks directly
      with Suu Kyi. It chose instead to talk to her
      subordinates, but her party insisted that
      there would be no talks without her

      The junta leaders are now playing for time.
      They hope that NLD and its followers would
      die if they continue to tighten the screw.
      They hope that the resumption of the
      meeting between Asean and the European
      Union over the joint commission would
      further end their isolation. (Burma would be
      allowed to attend the meeting passively.) 

      Burma's bad reputation continues to be
      widespread. Both the reports by the United
      Nations and the Geneva-based
      International Labour Organisation were
      harsh. ILO, as in the previous year, has
      strongly criticised Burma for the use of
      forced labour, which is considered by the
      international community to be human rights

      ILO has urged the junta to comply with the
      international labour and human right
      standards. But as usual, the pariah refuses
      to listen. ILO's 500-page investigative
      report, one of the most authoritative reports
      on atrocities in Burma, stated that there
      was systematic and massive abuse of
      workers. The forced labourers were not
      given food and sometimes were prevented
      from drinking water. 

      During the past few weeks, there have
      been efforts to broker a dialogue between
      Suu Kyi and the junta through the so-called
      ''treasure hunting'' road map. Some EU
      countries want to encourage the leaders in
      Rangoon to take initiatives that would break
      the impasse. But that would not work, if it
      means more measures to weaken Suu Kyi 

      The international community must not lose
      faith and give up on Suu Kyi and NLD.
      What she stands for will triumph as it
      responds to the people's aspirations. The
      junta leaders will continue to use their
      power to destroy her. The West must resist
      the temptation of investment opportunities
      in Burma. 

      The Nation