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Crackdown on Aung San Suu Kyi's Party in Burma - 2003-06-01


Burma's ruling military is staging a major crackdown on opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy.

Reports today (Sunday) from Rangoon say the government has closed all major offices of the pro-democracy movement and detained the party's top leaders.

Authorities arrested Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and about 20 of her associates late Friday, as she was about to return to Rangoon from a political tour in the northern part of the country. Her whereabouts have not been made public.

Late Saturday, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan released a statement calling for a national reconciliation in Burma, and for stalled talks between the opposition and the military to resume.

UN special envoy Razali Ismail has said he still intends to travel to Burma this week despite the Aung San Suu Kyi's arrest. He has been working to revive communications between the two sides.

The United States has called for Aung San Suu Kyi and her associates to be freed immediately, and urged Burma's military rulers to allow NLD headquarters to re-open.

A military spokesman said Saturday that Aung San Suu Kyi and the others were placed in what he called "protective custody" after clashes between NLD members and supporters of the government. Leaders of her National League for Democracy had complained of harassment and intimidation by government supporters during the trip.

Four people reportedly were killed and 50 were injured during violent clashes in one northern town (Yay Oo, 560 kilometers from Rangoon). The government blamed the violence on speeches by Aung San Suu Kyi in which she criticized the government.

The National League for Democracy won Burma's last parliamentary election by a landslide in 1990, but the military refused to relinquish power. The election campaign and the vote coincided with the longest period Aung San Suu Kyi was held under house arrest, from 1989 to 1995.

Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters

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