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Burma junta closes in to halt defia
Subject: Burma junta closes in to halt defiant Suu Kyi speeches.
Burma junta closes in to halt defiant Suu Kyi speeches
Burmese police blocked access to democracy leader Ms Aung San Suu
Kyi's street yesterday, a day after the Nobel peace prize winner defied
the ruling military junta and ventured outside her residence to address
some 250 supporters in two separate groups on the streets of Rangoon.
Traffic police and military intelligence officers were stationed
about 100m each side of Ms Suu Kyi's University Avenue home early
yesterday, barring cars from driving near her house. Pedestrians were
also asked to stay away.
"You cannot go through," said one man, apparently a military
intelligence officer. "You can go other places, but for government
security you cannot go past."
On Saturday, Ms Suu Kyi, prevented for the sixth sucessive
weekend from holding public meetings outside her home, simply went after
her supporters as military authorities drove them away.
Some 200 people who had gathered at an intersection not far from
her residence on University Avenue had been moved on by 50 armed riot police.
Chanting "Long live Aung San Suu kyi" and "We want democracy,"
the supporters walked slowly with police in tow before assembling
opposite the nearby Ministry of Industry.
Late on Saturday afternoon, half an hour after the usual starting
time for the public gatherings, the Nobel laureate arrived at the scene
in a white limousine. Ms Suu Kyi spoke for about three minutes, urging
the crowd to "be brave" and "be patient" as riot police looked on from
across the street.
She was accompanied by senior aides from her opposition National
League for Democracy, including vice chairman Mr Kyi Maung, 78, who had
been detained by junta authorities last week.
"The people are struggling very hard. If we are patient we will
reach our goal," she said.
After listening attentively to the speech, the crowd, which
included Buddhist monks, applauded Ms Suu Kyi. The pro-democracy leader
then departed swiftly in the limousine and her supporters dispersed
A few minutes earlier, she had spoken to another crowd of 50
people from the window of her car.
Ms Suu Kyi had addressed the public outside her residence every
weekend since her release in July 1995 from six years of house arrest,
until University Avenue was blockaded at the end of September.
More than 500 NLD members were arrested then as the junta
prevented the party from holding a congress for the second time this
year. About 260 were detained before a scheduled conference in May.
Ms Suu Kyi told a news conference at her home on Friday that her
weekend address would not be made inside her compound, insisting that
they were "public rallies, not party conferences".
When the armed blockade was lifted early last week, traffic and
Burmese pedestrains were free to travel down University Avenue - so long
as they did not stop outside Ms Suu Kyi's compound.
[Reuters, AFP, By a correspondent in Rangoon, 4 November 1996]