Burma says Suu Kyi removed from station for being abusive

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The Independent Online

Aung San Suu Kyi was evicted from a railway station when she became "abusive" on being prevented from leaving the capital by train, Burma's junta said Friday, giving its version of the latest confrontation with the pro-democracy leader.

Aung San Suu Kyi was evicted from a railway station when she became "abusive" on being prevented from leaving the capital by train, Burma's junta said Friday, giving its version of the latest confrontation with the pro-democracy leader.

Suu Kyi was "escorted" out of the station building at about 1 a.m. Friday (1830 GMT Thursday) and was now at her home, a government statement said. This could not be independently confirmed.

The junta, which has little tolerance for opposition, disapproves of Suu Kyi's efforts to conduct party work in the countryside and has physically prevented her from doing so on several occasions. Her National League for Democracy party won the elections in 1990 but the military has refused to hand over power.

In Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said the 1991 Nobel Peace laureate was "forcibly removed" from the station.

"This blatant, heavy-handed action is only the latest outrage committed against Aung San Suu Kyi and other party leaders by Burmese authorities," she said in a statement.

Suu Kyi and some other NLD leaders went to the station on Thursday afternoon to travel to Mandalay, Burma's second largest city, but were told that all seats were taken.

Station authorities then asked them to leave because they were obstructing workers, the government statement said, adding that they refused to leave even at closing time.

"Apparently upset that there were no seats available ... Ms. Suu Kyi lashed out at a station cleaning crew before being asked to leave by station authorities," the statement said.

"They became abusive toward station cleaning staff and had to be escorted from the building at approximately 1 a.m.," the statement said. "The government is investigating the incident," it added.

It said tickets to Mandalay, 540 kilometers (360 miles) north of Yangon, are in high demand and have to be booked three days in advance.

Suu Kyi's last confrontation with the government was Aug. 24 when she was barred from driving to a southern town and later put under virtual house arrest along with the entire top leadership of the NLD from Sept. 1 to Sept. 14.

After the station standoff on Thursday, reporters saw Suu Kyi's vehicle leaving the station accompanied by unmarked police cars. The convoy went to Suu Kyi's house but it was not immediately clear if she was in the car.

NLD vice chairman Tin Oo, who had accompanied Suu Kyi to the station, however, had not returned home, a source close to the NLD said quoting Tin Oo's wife.

The source said Tin Oo's wife was worried about her 77-year-old husband but had not dismissed the possibility that he was in Suu Kyi's house. The telephone line to Tin Oo's house was cut.

Suu Kyi won the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize for her struggle for democracy in Burma, also known as Myanmar, which has been ruled by its military continuously since 1962. The current generals took power in 1988 after crushing a nationwide uprising for democracy, killing thousands of people.

Suu Kyi was kept under house arrest from 1989 to 1995, and her movements have remained heavily restricted.

Suu Kyi last tried to travel by train, also to Mandalay, in March 1996, when authorities disconnected her carriage, saying it had developed mechanical problems and could not make the journey.

On Wednesday, Burma's Foreign Minister Win Aung told the United Nations that his government has been under "unfair scrutiny" and political pressure from other nations while it is establishing its own kind of democracy.

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