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Burma opposition publishes account

Subject: Burma opposition publishes account of abuses 

Burma opposition publishes account of abuses 
 06:03 a.m. Jul 15, 1997 Eastern 

 By Deborah Charles 

 BANGKOK, July 15 (Reuter) - Exiled Burmese dissidents on
 Tuesday released a book of letters written by the chairman of Aung
 San Suu Kyi's democracy party to Rangoon's ruling generals
 protesting against abuses and urging reform. 

 The 33 letters collected in ``Letters to a Dictator'' were written by
 National League for Democracy (NLD) chairman Aung Shwe
 between December 1995 and March 1997 and sent to Burma's
 military leaders. 

 The letters were smuggled out of Burma and compiled as a book by
 the All Burma Student's Democratic Front. 

 The letters, addressed to the chairman of the State Law and Order
 Restoration Council (SLORC), urge reform and protest against
 human rights violations and repression. The letters were never
 answered, the dissidents said. 

 The Thai-based Burmese dissidents who released the book said they
 did so to ensure a public record of the SLORC's human rights
 violations and to demonstrate the constraints under which the NLD
 has had to operate. 

 ``This is a book that was never intended to be published,'' said Tin
 Maung Win, vice-president of the Committee for the Restoration of
 Democracy in Burma. 

 He said the letters were written by the NLD which expected to
 receive an answer. But since no response was made and repression
 of the pro-democracy party has increased, the party decided to
 publish the letters. 

 ``I think we ... have an obligation to spread copies of this book
 throughout the world and to ensure preservation of this important
 historical record,'' said Tin Maung Win. ``The SLORC will surely
 attempt to destroy all record relating to its brutal suppression of the
 NLD (and) its efforts to bring about non-violent, lawful political
 change and to end the SLORC's imposed reign of terror.'' 

 The NLD won a landslide victory with more than 80 percent of the
 seats in a 1990 election. The result was never recognised and instead
 the SLORC cracked down on elected NLD politicians. 

 Thousands fled the country or were imprisoned. Recently the
 SLORC, which seized power in 1989 after quelling pro-democracy
 demonstrations, intensified its attacks on the NLD and its leaders. 

 The letters call on the SLORC to negotiate with the democracy
 movement. NLD co-founder Suu Kyi has repeatedly asked for a
 dialogue since she was released from six years of house arrest in July

 The book mentions death threats against Suu Kyi and physical
 attacks on party leaders, forced resignation of top NLD members
 and various cases of illegal detention and restriction of movement of
 NLD members and supporters. 

 Teddy Buri, who was elected as an NLD member of parliament in
 the 1990 election but later fled to Thailand, said the timing of the
 book's release was important because Burma was about to be
 admitted to the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). 

 ``Once this book gets into the hands of ASEAN leaders, and the
 international community it may help open their eyes,'' he told Reuters.
 ``It may help make them think about what way SLORC is
 repressive, in what way they could...help to bring about changes in

 ASEAN is due to admit Burma this month, despite protests from the
 West that acceptance was tantamount to approval of the SLORC's
 human rights violations. ^REUTER@