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Burma opposition publishes account
- Subject: Burma opposition publishes account
- From: moe@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Tue, 15 Jul 1997 20:48:00
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
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@