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VOA English Program Report: Burma Opposition - 2004-04-18


Burma has allowed the opposition National League for Democracy to re-open its headquarters in Rangoon, nearly a year after the offices were shut by the government.

The military government sealed the headquarters and all other opposition party offices last May as part of a nationwide crackdown following a clash between a pro-government mob and supporters of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Shwe Myint is the president of the Burmese Community Broadcasting Group which is trying to help bring democracy to Burma. The station is located southwest of Sydney, Australia in Auburn. Schwee says the military government is simply trying to manipulate the situation so it can get the support of western countries.

Shwe Myint said,"And they are upperhand, they are not really sincere about the transition of the democracy. So, we are watching and trying hard to regain democracy in Burma in every aspect."

Next month on May 17th the military plans to draft a resolution at a national convention, a first step in a road map to democracy. But Shwe Myint says the military did this same type of thing back in 1995.

Shwe Myint said,"They want to get a military person to be president of Burma, and only they want to control every sector [of Burma]. It's a very bad move from then, so it would be terrible, but it is very good to have dialogue with them."

Cedric Simpson of Amnesty International New Zealand says while the opening of the opposition party headquarters is welcomed as a significant event, the sign of goodwill would be the release of all the prisoners the other prisoners held in detention.

Mr. Simpson said,"It is a first step but it shouldn't be seen to be any sort of substitute for, for real concessions made toward voices, democratic voices in Burma. And we have to remember we're not talking about a guerilla force here we're talking about people who are in prison simply for basically expressing their political views.

Mr. Simpson could not say if or when Aung San Suu Kyi might be released but there has been speculation she might be released so she could join next month's national convention.

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