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Washington Post-Rangoon Moves to Wi

Subject: Washington Post-Rangoon Moves to Wipe Out Opposition

Paris, Tuesday, May 25, 1999
Rangoon Moves to Wipe Out Opposition

By Kevin Sullivan Washington Post Service
RANGOON - The military junta that has controlled Burma for the last 11 years
has sharply increased efforts to stamp out political opposition and
eradicate rebels from the country's remote jungle regions, according to
diplomats and other analysts here.
In the last seven months, the government has detained, threatened and
tortured opposition party members in ''dramatically'' increasing numbers to
eliminate the opposition ''once and for all,'' a Western official said.

At least 150 senior members of the National League for Democracy, headed by
the Nobel Peace Prize winner Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, are being held in
government detention centers. As many as 3,000 more political prisoners are
held in Rangoon's Insein Prison. The government has forced or coerced nearly
40,000 others to resign from the opposition party in recent months,
diplomats said.

The crackdown by Burma's military rulers not only heightens fears among
foreign democracy and human rights advocates, but also promises to strain
further Burma's relations with the United States and other powers. Political
repression in Burma - and evidence that the ruling junta is engaged in
international drug trafficking - has already spurred Washington to isolate
the country.

Relations between Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the junta deteriorated in March,
when it refused to grant a visa to her terminally ill husband, Michael Aris,
a 53-year-old British academic, who died March 27 in England. The government
said she should travel to Britain to visit him, but she feared the generals
would exile her permanently if she left. Without the protection afforded by
her broad international support, she feared that her party would be wiped

In a videotape delivered in April to the United Nations human rights
commission, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said that government oppression had
''worsened greatly'' in the last year on a scale that ''the world has not
yet grasped.'' She called on the United Nations to issue a firm resolution

supporting human rights in Burma that would be ''more than just mere

Amid the crackdown on Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her supporters, Burmese
soldiers have increased their campaign of burning and looting villages in
the eastern hills, driving ethnic minority refugees into Thailand in numbers
that alarm relief workers.

These minority groups have been fighting for nearly 50 years for regional
autonomy. Since the generals seized power in 1988, they have negotiated
cease-fires with 16 groups, but clashes continue. In recent months,
officials say, the government has sharply increased a village-by-village
crackdown that appears to be aimed at bringing the rebel regions under
Rangoon's permanent control.