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Suu Kyi’s proposed tour to rural areas will test new government


Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Burma’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi plans to travel to rural areas in Burma to try to encourage more political support.

Suu Kyi at a ceremony in Rangoon on Friday, May 27, to welcome home political prisoners released in the recent 1-year commutation of all prison sentences. Photo: MizzimaThe proposed trip will come sometime during or after August, say sources, and it will be her first since she was released from house arrest. The National League for Democracy has not provided details about the trip.

But sources close to the party have told Mizzima that she would go to the Irrawaddy Region. If that is true, the trip will be her third try to travel in that area.

She traveled to the Irrawaddy Region in April 1989 and July 1998, but the authorities hindered her free travel.

During a recent press conference with US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Joseph Yun on May 19 she said, ‘I hope that I could travel within the next two months. Now, I’m trying to complete my tasks in Rangoon as soon as possible. I have to do many things in Rangoon, and I hope that I can complete them within the next two months’.

On May 30, 2003, a motorcade carrying NLD Vice Chairman Tin Oo, Suu Kyi and other NLD leaders was attacked by thugs armed with sticks and knives. Suu Kyi managed to escape, but she was then detained for more than six years under house arrest.

Some of the thugs were members of the Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA), the precursor to the ruling party, the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP).

NLD leaders including Tin Oo are worried about the proposed trip.

‘The government must ensure the security of the people. They must shoulder that responsibility’, Tin Oo said.

Suu Kyi’s office chief, former military officer Win Htein, who accompanied Suu Kyi on a trip in 1989, said, ‘We are not armed. So, if they attack all we can do is suffer. We want to accompany her because we don’t care about the possible dangers’.

Win Htein, 70, said, ‘If I accompany her next time, the only thing I will worry about is that I’m getting too old to effectively protect her and to actively do things for her’.

Since 1988, Suu Kyi’s travel entourage has been attacked seven times by mobs sponsored by the former junta.

In the past, every time she tried to leave Rangoon, the authorities put up obstacles during her trip.

In March 1996, she tried to go to Mandalay, but the authorities removed the railway carriage in which Suu Kyi would ride. Similarly, in September 2000 she planned to travel Mandalay, but the authorities did not allow her to get on the train at the Rangoon Railway Station.

Peace and Diversity Party secretary Nay Myo Wai said that Suu Kyi should go to the rural areas, especially villages.

‘If a minister goes to an area, the township-level officials will prepare things in advance to pretend that everything is ok. When Region/State-level NLD went to an area, the township-level members might hide some bad things. That’s their annoying habit. So, they should go to villages’, Nay Myo Wai said.

Meanwhile, a Thai-based Burmese observer, Aung Thu Nyein, said, ‘Since Aung San Suu Kyi has been released, she has been in Rangoon. Her only way to communicate with people is speaking on foreign-based radio. If she travels around the country, it is very likely that many people will gather to show their support for her. Then the authorities will feel anxious. The authorities blocked them before and in the Depayin Massacre and that incident is likely to happen again’.

‘If the NLD really wants to tour, they should be clear and plan everything in advance before they leave Rangoon’, Aung Thu Nyein said.

Myo Naing, an NLD member from the Mandalay Region, said that in accordance with the lesson that could be drawn from the Depayin Massacre, the authorities should ensure the security of Suu Kyi.

‘I had a very close encounter at the Depayin Massacre. They were very violent. We suffered a lot because we were unarmed’, Myo Naing said.

NLD member Kyaw Soe Lin, who drove the car carrying Suu Kyi in the Depayin incident, said, ‘I feel that things aren’t secure now. In my opinion, the new government is no different than the former junta. So, I don’t trust it. An incident like the Depayin Massacre is likely to happen'.

Khin Ohnmar, the chairman of the Network for Democracy and Development (NDD), which published a book about the former junta-backed USDA, said, ‘We support the idea that Suu Kyi is trying to travel to communicate with the people. But, the authorities must provide security’.

Khin Maung Swe, a leader of the National Democratic Force, a breakaway faction of the NLD, said, ‘If Aung San Suu Kyi shares her ideas and opinions regarding Parliament politics and politics outside Parliament, it will benefit the people, I think’.

A chronology of Suu Kyi’s travel from 1989 to 2003
April 5, 1989:
Aung San Suu Kyi, accompanied by former NLD Vice Chairman Kyi Muang, confronts Captain Myint Oo who ordered six soldiers to aim their guns at Suu Kyi in Danuphyu while she was campaigning in the Irrawaddy Region. Two superior military officers ordered the soldiers not to shoot.
March 13, 1996:
When Suu Kyi was about to go to Mandalay, the authorities removed a railway carriage in which Suu Kyi would sit, saying the carriage needed to be repaired.
November 9, 1996:
A motorcade carrying Aung San Suu Kyi was attacked on Gabaraye Pagoda Road in Rangoon by a mob of about 200 men armed with sticks and knives.
July 23, 1998:

Suu Kyi tried to travel to the Pegu Region and the Irrawaddy Region in July and August 1998, but was prevented by the authorities. On July 23, 1998, armed troops surrounded Suu Kyi and her drivers near Htandapin in the Rangoon Region.

August 24, 2000:
Suu Kyi and NLD supporters were camped out in their cars near Dallah near the Rangoon River when she was ordered to return to her home.
September 21 and 23, 2000:
Suu Kyi tried to go to Mandalay, but the authorities did not allow her to get on the train. She was sent back to her home and placed under house arrest on September 23.
May 30, 2003:
A motorcade carrying NLD vice chairman Tin Oo, Suu Kyi and other NLD leaders was attacked near Kyi Village in Depayin Township in Sagaing Region by a mob armed with sticks and knives. Although Suu Kyi escaped, she was arrested in Yay-U and sent to Insein Prison. She was placed under house arrest again.
May 2009:
Six years after her house arrest, in May 2009, her house arrest was extended for allegedly violating the terms of her house arrest because she allowed an American, John Yettaw, to stay in her home after Yettaw swam across Inya Lake and illegally entered Suu Kyi's property. She was released from house arrest on November 13, 2010.



Last Updated ( Saturday, 28 May 2011 13:17 )  

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