Rangoon stand-off ends in detention of Suu Kyi aide

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The Independent Online

A senior aide to the Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi was detained indefinitely after the two were barred from leaving the capital by train in their latest confrontation with the ruling junta, the government said yesterday.

A senior aide to the Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi was detained indefinitely after the two were barred from leaving the capital by train in their latest confrontation with the ruling junta, the government said yesterday.

Ms Suu Kyi and Tin Oo, the deputy leader of the National League for Democracy party (NLD), were evicted early yesterday from Rangoon's railway station when they became "abusive", a government statement said. Ms Suu Kyi was escorted back home.

But Tin Oo, 77, and eight other NLD workers who were planning to accompany Ms Suu Kyi on her train journey to the north on party business, were taken to a "government guest house as a temporary measure to prevent similar incidents", a military official said. "This is for the time being," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Several opposition leaders have been taken to government guest houses in the past, only to be kept there against their will for up to two years. The government denies such detention constitutes arrest without charges.

The junta, which has little tolerance for opposition, disapproves of Ms Suu Kyi's work for the NLD in rural Burma and has physically prevented her from travelling on several occasions. The NLD won the elections in 1990 but the military has refused to hand over power.

In Washington, the United States Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, said Ms Suu Kyi 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," she said.

The military official said the railways will also take action against Tin Oo for disrupting work at the station on Thursday when he, Ms Suu Kyi and the others arrived to travel to Mandalay, Burma'ssecond largest city. They were prevented from boarding four consecutive trains after being told that all tickets had been sold out.

The government statement said they refused to leave when the station closed, even after authorities said they were obstructing workers. "Apparently upset that there were no seats available ... Suu Kyi lashed out at a station cleaning crew before being asked to leave by station authorities," the statement said.

Burma has been ruled by the military continuously since 1962. The current generals took power in 1988 after crushing a nationwide uprising for democracy, killing thousands of people. Ms Suu Kyi was kept under house arrest from 1989 to 1995, and her movements have remained heavily restricted.

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