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Daw Suu's Letter from Burma #47

Mainichi Daily News, Monday, November 4, 1996


Letter from Burma (No. 47) by Aung San Suu Kyi

	This is getting absurd.  The road to my house keeps getting blocked and
unblocked and then blocked again with the agitated rhythm of a demented
yo-yo.  Let us recapitulate the events of the last month.  The first time
the barricades went up was at midnight on Oct. 7, the barricades were
removed.  Then at midnight on the 11th, the road was blocked off again.
	This second blockade lasted until 4:30 p.m. on the 21st. Later at night,
around 9:30 p.m., the road was blocked off again.  "Possibly there is some
method in their madness" was all I could think as I went to sleep.  The next
morning I discovered that the road had been unblocked at 3 o'clock in the
early morning.  That day, the 22nd, was a normal working day: well, more or
less normal by NLD standards, with people coming over the exchange notes on
how they had been chased and beaten by security personnel, how they had been
taken into detention and how they had been released.  At midnight that very
day the road was blocked off yet again.
	There are slight variations from one blockade to the other.  The first time
I was free to come and go, and key members of the NLD executive committee
were allowed to come to my house.  The second time, I was still free to come
and go but others were not allowed in except on the 19th, when I made my
usual monthly offering to monks in remembrance of my father.  U Aung Shwe,
our NLD chairman, and our two deputy chairmen, U Kyi Maung and U Tin U, and
their wives were able to join in, for the ceremony.
	The second blockade was a busy time for us as a number of party meetings
had to be conducted at various venues.  It was on the day we finished our
fourth meeting that the road was opened again at the unexpected time of 4:30
p.m.  (I have written about the fact that such events as the arrest of NLD
members and the closing and opening of roads tend to take place in the dead
of night.)
	The third blockade which started at midnight on the 22nd found us quite
blase.  The next morning, a Wednesday, I got ready to go out to see where we
should hold the meeting that had been scheduled to take place at my house.
But just as I was about to leave, the military intelligence officer in
charge of security in my house came to convey a "request" to the effect that
I should not go out that day.  A civil request deserves a civil response, so
I said that would be all right provided those who had to attend the meeting
were allowed to come to my house.  This was arranged speedily enough but
when U Aung Shwe and U Tin U arrived I discovered that U Kyi Maung was not
with them.  He had been taken away early that morning before dawn.  I also
discovered that the MI officer had asked them to request me not to leave the
house for few days.
	We were given to understand that U Kyi Maung had been taken away to be
questioned in connection with the latest student unrest that had erupted in
the Rangoon Institute of Technology a couple of days previously.  Two
students had come to my house on Tuesday and explained to U Kyi Maung what
had happened.  The authorities were quick to jump to the conclusion that
there must be some link between the NLD and the student troubles.  This is
quite normal.  The authorities tend to lay anything that goes away in the
country at the door of the NLD.  We are often amazed at the extent of the
influence which the authorities imagine we have upon the course of events
within Burma.  Their obsession with our organization sometimes reminds us of
the words of a song: "Asleep, my thoughts are of you; awake, my thoughts are
of you. ...."
	"Business as usual," we chanted and carried on with our work in the surreal
atmosphere of a house arrest that was not a house arrest.  We listened to
BBC and VOA broadcasts to find out what was going on in the big wide world
outside the fence of 54 University Avenue and heard to our surprise that the
authorities had claimed I was free to come and go as I pleased.  This claim
was particularly ludicrous in view of the line of uniformed guards standing
at attention in front of the gates of my house.  We told our MI officer
about this official statement and it was conceded on Friday afternoon that I
was in fact free to come and go as I pleased but, of course, I would be
"escorted," which was really nothing new.  By that time, I had already
missed a couple of appointments.
	Saturday was for me the beginning of our annual light festival.  Our young
people made simple, candle-lit lanterns from bamboo and cellophane in
yellow, green, red and blue and that evening and the nest, we hung them
along the fence.  We also let off fire balloons and set off sparklers.  Our
pyrotechnic activities were of an extremely modest order but there was a
certain charm in keeping a traditional festival alive in the midst of restraint.
	On Monday afternoon, U Kyi Maung was released and the road to my house was
unblocked.  For the time being.

* * * * * * * *

This article is one of a yearlong series of letters.  The Japanese
translation appears in the Mainichi Shimbun the same day, or the previous
day in some areas.