Burmese massacre protest is stifled

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A MILITARY alert in Burma yesterday appears to have prevented public commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the massacre of thousands of pro-democracy protesters. The ruling military junta said that it would "annihilate any efforts to destabilise the country", and kept the army on standby. Security checkpoints were put up around Rangoon University, the focus of demonstrations in the past.

In a statement to mark the anniversary, opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi said that the government had to understand that it could achieve nothing simply by relying on the use of force. Other opposition leaders have turned down an offer to meet junta representatives because the regime insisted on excluding Ms Suu Kyi from the talks.

She is demanding that armed guards be removed from her home. They have been stationed there since last week, when she attempted to visit members of her National League of Democracy (NLD) who live outside Rangoon. She was held in a car for six days, denied food and water and then forced home.

Although the government succeeded in keeping demonstrators off the streets yesterday another confrontation could materialise on 21 August. That is the deadline set by the NLD for the authorities to convene the parliament elected in 1990, the last time elections were held. The movement overwhelmingly won the poll, but the junta ignored the result and put many of the successful candidates in prison.

If the junta failed to act on the NLD's demand, Ms Suu Kyi said yesterday, she "could not be held responsible for the consequences". She has also vowed to try to make another visit outside the capital, arguing that she is supposed not to be under house arrest.

There is no sign that the junta will acknowledge the 21 August deadline, let alone take any action to convene the parliament.