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ST-'People power' alert goes out

The Straits Times
AUG 18 1999

MYANMAR: 'People power' alert goes out

Yangon clamps down ahead of Sept 9 repeat uprising

BANGKOK -- Myanmar dissidents in exile have picked Sept 9 this year a repeat
of a "people power" uprising 11 years ago that shook the foundations of
authoritarian rule, but was ultimately crushed at the cost of thousands of

The government is clearly concerned enough to take preemptive action,
including detention of activists, a tightening of provincial security and
even the broadcast of loudspeaker warnings to people not to join any

Dissident groups said more than 150 people had been detained for
anti-government activity in the past two weeks.

The government said last week it had arrested four people after uncovering a
plot to instigate unrest next month and had detained others for questioning.

Earlier this month, it warned the main opposition party, the National League
for Democracy, not to get involved in any unrest.

The military authorities in a Myanmar border town have been using a
loudspeaker truck to warn people not to join an uprising dissident groups in
exile have called for, Myanmar traders said yesterday. They said the
residents of Myawadi were warned against supporting a dissident campaign for
civil unrest on Sept 9 this year the so-called "four-nines day".

The announcements stressed existing rules against gatherings of more than
five people and warned of tough punishments against anyone who defied the

The Myanmar military's whole raison d'etre since it seized direct power on
Sept 18, 1988, has been to prevent a return to "anarchy" which it said ruled
that year, when millions took to the streets to demand an end to decades of
authoritarian rule.

It crushed the revolt with bullets and bayonets and has since detained
thousands of dissidents, shut colleges and universities, ignored an election
result and endured consequent pariah status overseas rather than surrender
power. -- Reuters