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Reply-To: "TIN KYI" <tinkyi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>



INTRO:  The streets of Burma's capital, Rangoon, were quiet Thursday as a
campaign by Burmese pro-
democracy groups calling for civil unrest appears to have fallen far short.
Ron Corben reports
from Bangkok.

TEXT:  Pro-democracy groups wanted the day of protest -- known as the Four
Nines campaign or
the ninth day of the ninth month 1999 - to mark the beginning of a mass
movement in support of
political reform in Burma.

Rangoon had been tense in the lead up to the date, but diplomats in the
capital say things
were quiet, as many people stayed at home. The campaign also fell on a
Buddhist holiday. Schools
were closed and road traffic in the capital was especially light.

In the past month, rallies and the distribution of pamphlets have led to a
reported crackdown by
the military government. Burmese students in exile saying that up to 500
people had been
detained nationwide.

While there was little sign of protest inside Burma on Thursday, there were
protests elsewhere
in the region.  In Bangkok, some three hundred people demonstrated outside
the Burmese embassy,
cutting themselves and using the blood to write posters before setting the
signs alight.

In Australia up to two hundred people demonstrated outside the Burmese
Embassy in
Canberra before staging a sit-in.

Diplomats say now that the day has past, efforts by the European Union and
the United Nations
toward establishing a dialogue between the military government and the
opposition National
League for Democracy, led by Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, can be

In elections in 1990, the N-L-D won a landslide victory in general
elections, but have been
prevented from taking power by the military government.

But business analyst, Chris Bruton, told V-O-A he considers it unlikely that
the military will
allow any moves toward democracy. Mr. Bruton, a director with the
Bangkok-based Dataconsult, says
many in the military could point to East Timor as an example of
democracy-gone-awry and use it as
an opportunity to reinforce their hard-line against democratic reform.


09-Sep-1999 08:41 AM EDT (09-Sep-1999 1241 UTC)

Source: Voice of America