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U.S. Newspaper Editorials: Concern Augments Over Aung San Suu Kyi's Situation - 2003-06-05


U.S. newspapers are worried about the medical condition and whereabouts of Burma's long-time democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Independent sources outside the nation say Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi was hurt in an attack on a convoy of her supporters in northern Burma Friday [5/29].

But the government says she is unhurt and in protective custody, but won't say where.

The government says four people were killed and 50 injured during the attack north of Rangoon [near the town of Dipeyin]. Unconfirmed, independent accounts however, put the death toll at roughly 70 with many more hurt.

Aung San Suu Kyi is reported to have a head wound and broken arm. The Nobel Peace Prize winner was elected Prime Minister more than a dozen years ago, but the military junta nullified the results and keeps her under house arrest most of the time. Several papers, including Louisiana's New Orleans Times-Picayune, are worried about her.

The generals who run Burma have shown some willingness to put up with political opposition -- but notfor long. Only a year after she was released from house arrest, human rights activist and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi was back in government custody this weekend and her health is a matter of speculation.

A government spokesman said Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi was transported to "protective custody" after violence broke out between her supporters and pro-government protesters in the city of Dipeyin.

Unofficial reports say Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi was badly injured in the incident, but the junta says only that she and 19 supporters have been taken to a "safe place."

"An atrocity" is how The Boston Globe describes what happened, and it senses whom is to blame.

It would be hard to imagine a regime more deserving of condemnation than the Burmese junta. Its obscene violations of human rights, its complicity in narcotics trafficking, and its refusal to honor the overwhelming 1990 electoral victory of Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy ought to make the junta an international pariah.

To their credit, President Bush, the State Department, and leading members of Congress have denounced the junta's latest display of despotism. President Bush should issue an executive order that would swiftly impose sanctions.

The Washington Post says, "The military regime that has been gradually grinding the people of Burma into poverty and repression alarmingly accelerated the process in the past few days. Aung San Suu Kyi has been taken into custody and a number of her supporters killed [or] arrested…"

Now widowed, Aung San Suu Kyi was freed from house arrest one year ago when international pressure forced the regime to promise a political dialogue. But no dialogue has ensued; a United Nations-brokered process has gone nowhere.

The U.N facilitator is schedule to return to Burma next month, and reports indicate the regime will once again promise dialogue. This time around no one should be satisfied with anything but deeds: true freedom for the National League for Democracy to operate.

Lastly, in the Pacific Northwest, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer ties the latest events in Burma to the just-concluded economic summit in France.

While anti-globalization demonstrators protested at the G-8 summit, the dictatorship Burma is a chilling reminder of the old-fashioned dangers facing nations. The most basic human requirement is freedom. Yet too many nations create abject misery at home with brutal repression. The only goal of too many leaders is staying in power, crushing any resistance to that end.

The military government in Burma, has taken Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi back into custody for her own protection. As with North Korea, Cuba and Zimbabwe, nothing that government says can be trusted. Her detention should provide a clear signal about the intransigence of Burmese authorities should spark global protests…

Those comments from Washington State's Seattle Post-Intelligencer conclude this sampling on the recent detention of Burma's principal democrat.

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