Daily News- May 03- 2002- Friday

  • Myanmar opposition hopes for Suu Kyi release
  • Waiting game in Myanmar as Aung San Suu Kyi's release looms
  • Burma's NLD awaits leader's release
  • >Cautious Optimism from Exile
  • Myanmar junta releases five members of opposition NLD
  • Prosecutors submit coup plot case to Myanmar court
  • Doubts cast over Suu Kyi release

  • Myanmar opposition hopes for Suu Kyi release

    YANGON (Reuters) May 3 - Pro-democracy activists in Myanmar waited anxiously on Friday to see if opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi would be freed from 19 months of house arrest as hopes rose for a political breakthrough in the military ruled country.

    Senior leaders of the 56-year-old Nobel laureate's political party say she told them this week that she expected to be released within days following secret meetings with the junta. But the government was silent on the matter, and Suu Kyi's home on University Avenue in Yangon was still blocked by barricades and a ''No Entry'' sign.

    The chairman of the National League for Democracy, Aung Shwe, said on Friday he did not know when Suu Kyi might be released, but he expected news within a few days. ''That's all I can tell you,'' he told reporters at the party's ramshackle headquarters, festooned with pro-democracy slogans and paintings of Suu Kyi.

    The NLD office was crammed with activists waiting for news, but elsewhere life went on as usual with many people seemingly oblivious to the possibility of political change ahead. Official media have made no comment on the development.

    Government sources did say that five other political prisoners were to be freed from detention later on Friday -- the latest batch in a series of releases which have seen more than two hundred freed since the government and opposition began ''national reconciliation'' talks in late-2000.

    Opposition sources said while they were confident Suu Kyi would be freed, some aspects of the deal had yet to be agreed. Her release has also long been sought by the international community, which has isolated Myanmar and imposed economic sanctions on the impoverished country in a bid to force political change. ''The military regime is very reluctant for an unconditional release,'' Sann Aung, a minister in a shadow government set up by exiled opposition politicians, told Reuters in Bangkok.``They're still bargaining.''


    The opposition also wants the ruling generals to publicly announce it is in talks with Suu Kyi to make it harder for them to backtrack.

    ''The talks are known by the international community but inside Burma no one knows about this,'' said Sann Aung. ''We want the dialogue to be substantive and irreversible.''

    Analysts say the main factor pushing the military government towards compromise is its desire to secure an easing of economic sanctions, which have pushed the tottering economy to the brink of collapse.

    The government says it is committed to building democracy, but that moving too fast could unleash anarchy and cause the multi-ethnic country to disintegrate.

    Political sources say the military has been trying to strike a deal with Suu Kyi under which she would call for an easing of sanctions and cooperate with the government in some humanitarian fields such as education and health.

    U.N. special envoy Razali Ismail, who played a key role in brokering the reconciliation talks, said after a visit to Myanmar last week that he was confident of a political breakthrough soon.

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    Waiting game in Myanmar as Aung San Suu Kyi's release looms

    YANGON, May 3 (AFP) - Myanmar's democratic opposition, diplomats and media were forced to play the waiting game Friday as they watched anxiously for the expected release of Aung San Suu Kyi after 19 months under house arrest.

    The headquarters of her National League for Democracy (NLD) was abuzz with anticipation as party members gathered to await signs that an agreement on her release had finally been forged with the military government.

    "We are totally exhilarated that she will be freed. We will be very happy if it happens," said party worker Hla Myint, one of a group of women selling badges and posters emblazoned with the image of their charismatic leader.

    Soe Myint, a member of the party's decision-making Central Executive Committee, said last-minute negotiations over the conditions for her liberation were still being deliberated.

    "This is a very critical stage, they don't want to say anything which would adversely affect a very fragile situation. but you can see by yourself that everyone is here and waiting," he told AFP.

    His deputy in the NLD's Yangon divisional organising committee, Than Win, said the party expected that the Nobel peace laureate would visit the downtown headquarters immediately after she was allowed to leave her lakeside villa.

    "She's in a key position, all of us are expecting her. As soon as she's released she will come here to speak and as far as I know she will come to the NLD headquarters every day," he said.

    Dozens of foreign media who have descended on Yangon in recent days swarmed around the ramshackle building, which was packed full of people swapping notes and bowls of food as well as conducting regular lessons for youngsters.

    Meanwhile, military intelligence officials kept their own vigil, snapping photos and taking video footage of everyone entering the wooden building, from their usual vantage point in a tea shop across the road.

    Anticipation that the restrictions against Aung San Suu Kyi would be lifted were sparked on Tuesday when UN envoy to Myanmar Razali Ismail, who visited here last week, hinted the release could be imminent.Observers in Yangon said the ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) had much to settle before making such a move, and may also be preparing a statement on the historic talks begun with Aung San Suu Kyi in October 2000.

    "Rumours have been started that (the release) won't be today, that it'll be tomorrow, and there's another rumour that it might be later," said one Yangon-based diplomat. "Quite frankly I don't think anyone really knows.""It might mean there's some sort of hitch, but it might just mean they're just trying to sort things out.

    "But I wouldn't make too much of the delay, as they (the junta) never said when it would happen," he said, adding that the regime ensures its every move is planned down to the last detail, and never makes major steps in haste.

    The agreement on Aung San Suu Kyi's release is likely to cover her freedom of movement, the release of political prisoners and the future operations of the NLD.

    Her party has said she is concerned at the prospect of returning to conditions she endured after 1995 when she was freed from six years under house arrest but forbidden to leave the capital Yangon.

    "We don't want to make a repeat of '95," NLD vice-chairman Tin Oo said Thursday, while adding that reaching a satisfactory agreement was "feasible".The United States also said Tuesday it would welcome the release of Myanmar's democracy figurehead, but that her freedom must be "unconditional".

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    Burma's NLD awaits leader's release

    Source : BBC

    Burma's opposition National League for Democracy is hopeful its leader Aung San Suu Kyi will be freed soon, as negotiations between her and the military government continue.

    NLD Vice-President Tin Oo told the BBC that final arrangements were being made for her release from 20 months under house arrest.

    He did not elaborate, but senior NLD sources said Aung San Suu Kyi was still negotiating the conditions for her release.

    The BBC's Larry Jagan says the NLD's headquarters in Rangoon has been a hive of activity all day.

    A new office is being built so Aung San Suu Kyi can resume her political activities. An air conditioning unit is being installed and a telephone line repaired.

    NLD workers said the phone would be working on Monday, after the government cut it several years ago.

    Government hold up

    Speculation about Aung San Suu Kyi's imminent release has been building all week.

    But there is still uncertainty over whether the military government will release her unconditionally, or whether she will be forced into some kind of compromise.

    Our correspondent says that as days pass with no sign Aung San Suu Kyi is closer to freedom, there are growing fears the arrangements for her release have come unstuck.

    Senior sources in the NLD say the hold-up is due to the government's unwillingness to formally commit itself to carrying on a dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi.

    The sources say the opposition leader has asked the generals to guarantee her further meetings and access to senior generals when necessary.

    One source said the NLD was waiting for the government to issue a statement before Aung San Suu Kyi would agree to be released.

    Diplomats believe this would entail the military publicly acknowledging that they were having secret talks with the opposition leader and a commitment to continue the dialogue process.

    The international community has been urging the generals to free the opposition leader unconditionally.

    Tin Oo said there was concern not to repeat what happened in 1995, when Aung San Suu Kyi was released after six years of house arrest but was forbidden to leave Rangoon.

    Aung San Suu Kyi was put under house arrest in September 2000 after she defied the travel ban by trying to visit the city of Mandalay.

    During her house arrest she has been in secretive talks with the military, brokered by the United Nations envoy, Razali Ismail.

    Aung San Suu Kyi's NLD won 1990 elections by a landslide but the military refused to hand over power.

    Burma has faced international isolation and economic sanctions over the issue, and over its human rights record.

    Europe, the United States and Japan have all warned that unless there is significant progress soon, they will be forced to consider isolating the country further and even introducing trade sanctions.

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    Cautious Optimism from Exile

    By Ko Thet and Kyaw Zwa Moe
    the Irrawaddy

    May 03, 2002 - Despite intensifying hopes that the release of Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi could come at any moment, Burmese dissidents—inside and outside the country—are not celebrating just yet. They say the significance of the release hinges on whether it is conditional or not.

    "We welcome the release of Aung San Suu Kyi," Khun Marko Ban, leader of the Democratic Organization for Kayan National Unity, told The Irrawaddy. "But what is important is allowing her to freely engage in political activities, including traveling around the country. Otherwise, her release will not make any sense."

    Yesterday, National League for Democracy (NLD) Vice Chairman Tin Oo recounted that Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been under de facto house arrest for nearly two years, told him that she believed a political breakthrough would be seen in a few days. But as the secret talks between Suu Kyi and the ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) have dragged into their twentieth month without producing tangible results, many people doubt that an imminent breakthrough will be forthcoming.

    "We don’t know yet how far the talks between Aung San Suu Kyi and the military regime have gone," said Than Kae, chairman of the All Burma Students’ Democratic Front (ABSDF). "The release of Aung San Suu Kyi must be unconditional. If there are conditions on her release, then we would not believe that the talks have actually taken place."

    As western governments and human rights groups remain skeptical of the regime’s sincerity, Than Kae said that the junta needs to be watched carefully and that opposition groups need to continue operating as best they can whether it be politically, through mass movements or armed struggles.

    Although news is rife that Suu Kyi and the junta are hammering out the final details of her release, not everyone believes that she will accept an offer with conditions.

    "I don’t believe that Aung San Suu Kyi will accept her release with conditions," said Dr San Aung of the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB). "The release should not be a change from house arrest to Rangoon arrest."

    Aung Naing Oo, a political analyst, told The Irrawaddy that the release should be unconditional and Suu Kyi herself would not agree to a conditional release. However he added that, "The SPDC is concerned about releasing her unconditionally, because she will be able to eliminate the fears of the people."

    Not everyone agrees that Suu Kyi is demanding such ultimatums.

    Naing Han Thar, an ethnic Mon leader, told The Irrawaddy that, "Even if the junta releases Aung San Suu Kyi, they will release her only after making a compromise. In reality, the junta wants to ban her from political activities."

    Some feel that the regime is running out of time and that a breakthrough of some sort must be announced in the near-term. In regards to whether Suu Kyi’s release will be conditional or if it might potentially be postponed, one Rangoon-based diplomat told The Irrawaddy, "[Burma’s military government] have gathered the press, they have to give them something."

    With such a wide spectrum of political ideologies both within the government and the opposition, some doubt a major breakthrough at this time is feasible. Shan State Constitution Drafting Commission President, Sao Seng Suk, commented that after the junta releases Suu Kyi they would have to continue with reconciliation talks. "Since there are hard-liners and soft-liners in both the military and democracy forces, it is impossible to say how much political change will happen after the release."

    At the time, most analysts and opposition members are content just watching the SPDC’s next move. Bo Kyi, a spokesperson for the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma), told The Irrawaddy: "I don’t agree with the wait and see attitude. In fact, we should keep doing whatever we have to because there have been a lot of human rights violations by the military government. We still need to uncover all these wrongdoings by the government."

    Meanwhile, the government in Rangoon, who had been busy inviting journalists from around the world to cover this landmark occasion in the country's reconciliation process, suddenly stopped granting visas to journalists yesterday, according to sources in Rangoon and abroad. One reporter who did manage to get one on Tuesday was only permitted to stay for three days.

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    Myanmar junta releases five members of opposition NLD

    YANGON, May 3 (AFP) - The Myanmar junta said Friday it had freed five members of Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD), as hopes grew the opposition leader herself might soon be released from house arrest.More than 250 political prisoners have been released from the nation's jails since the military embarked on secret talks with Aung San Suu Kyi in October 2000, one month after confining her to her lakeside home.A total of 43 NLD members have been freed since mid-February when the pace of the releases stepped up.

    "Today five NLD members were being released from Monywa and Pyay correctional institutions," a government spokesman said in a statement."They are in good health and reunited with their respective families," he said, identifying those released as Cho Lay, Than Tun, Aung Myint, Myint Swe, and Hla Win.

    The capital Yangon has been abuzz with talk of the Nobel peace laureate's release since United Nations envoy Razali Ismail, who visited the isolated state late week, hinted Tuesday her release could be imminent.

    NLD vice-chairman Tin Oo said Thursday the opposition party expects its leader to be freed from house arrest "very soon" after last-minute negotiations on conditions for the release are resolved.But the NLD, diplomats and a swarm of local and international media were forced to play the waiting game Friday as they watched anxiously for signs she could soon emerge from her home on University Drive.

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    Prosecutors submit coup plot case to Myanmar court

    YANGON, Myanmar - Government prosecutors on Friday submitted to a court their case against some of former dictator Ne Win's relatives, who are accused of plotting a coup against Myanmar's ruling military regime, officials said.

    The officials said investigations have been completed and a trial was expected to take place soon. The judge will set a trial date if he decides the case has merit.The government officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said prosecutors presented their case to the Yangon Division Court, chaired by Judge Aung Ngwe.No other details including what the charges were or who was named in the case were available.

    But last month, senior intelligence official Maj. Gen. Kyaw Win said the suspects would be put on trial for high treason, a crime punishable by death.Myanmar authorities arrested Aye Zaw Win the husband of Ne Win's daughter Sandar Win and their three sons on March 7 for allegedly trying to recruit military units to kidnap junta leaders and force them to swear allegiance to Ne Win.The four men are being held at the Insein prison outside Yangon. Ne Win, 91, and Sandar Win are under de facto house arrest.

    The junta claimed the family planned the coup because they were upset about losing some of the economic and social privileges they previously enjoyed. The secretive regime has released few other details about the case.Many observers wonder whether the coup plot really existed, and have speculated that the plot allegations may be a government attempt to neutralize Ne Win, who is said to have wielded behind-the-scenes influence on the government.

    The speculation gained ground as the junta was engaged in reconciliation talks with pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Ne Win is believed to be bitterly opposed to giving Suu Kyi any concessions.

    Ne Win came to power in a 1962 coup and stepped down in 1988 in the face of pro-democracy demonstrations, which were eventually quashed by the military. The army generals then seized control.They have drawn international criticism for refusing to hand over power to Suu Kyi's party, which won 1990 general elections. But a breakthrough in Myanmar's political deadlock appears imminent, with Suu Kyi — who has been under house detention for 19 months expected to be released soon.

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    Doubts cast over Suu Kyi release

    YANGON, Myanmar (CNN) -- Preparations for the release from house arrest of Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi may have been premature, sources have told CNN.

    Earlier, aides to the detained opposition leader were optimistic that she would be released soon and without preconditions. However, sources in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, have since told CNN that any release may not happen for weeks.Furthermore, there has still been no indication from the government that the release will happen.

    The 56-year-old Nobel laureate and leader of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) has been under house arrest for the better part of the last decade. Earlier Thursday, NLD Vice-Chairman Tin Oo told CNN that he believed there would be "good news in the coming days." "The army has just said they would release Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, but we do not know when," he said, adding that he had no specific information about the release.

    However, CNN's Tom Mintier, who is in Yangon, says that while there is plenty of optimism and plenty of talk, there has been nothing concrete from the government pointing to an imminent release.

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