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Burma's Rulers May Free Opposition Leader This Month - 2003-06-15


Burma's military government says it may release pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi from detention this month.

In an interview with Japan's Kyodo news agency, a Foreign Ministry spokesman (identified as Thaung Tun) said Friday Aung San Suu Kyi's release depends on whether the situation in the country returns to normal. He did not elaborate.

Burma's military has detained the opposition leader several times over the past 15 years, often under the premise of protecting her. This time, she was taken into custody after clashes May 30th between her supporters and people the U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell has called "government thugs."

The clashes took place in northern Burma, during one of Aung San Suu Kyi's political trips outside Rangoon.

A United Nations envoy who visited Burma this past week, Malaysian diplomat Razali Ismail, said he was optimistic that Aung San Suu Kyi will be freed over the next two weeks. He said after meeting with her in Rangoon that she is in good health and good spirits.

Secretary Powell says he will urge that Burma's neighbors confront the military government and demand democratic reforms.

Writing on the opinion page of the Wall Street Journal (Thursday), Mr. Powell said other Southeast Asian countries should join the United States in imposing sanctions on Burma.

Traditionally, most of Burma's neighbors have been reluctant to confront Rangoon over human rights.

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

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