Suu Kyi placed back under house arrest

Tim McGirk New Delhi
Tuesday 01 October 1996 23:02

The Burmese dissident and Nobel Peace laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi, has been placed under "virtual house arrest" in Rangoon after the military regime rounded up more than 500 of her supporters.

Soldiers and riot police have blockaded her bamboo-shrouded family compound beside a lake in Rangoon and are arresting anyone who tries to see her. Her telephone has also been cut off. Since January, she has been denied visits from her British husband, Michael Aris, and their two sons.

"No matter what the military wants to call it, she's been put under house arrest again," one opposition source said. Earlier, she spent six years imprisoned in her house before international pressure forced the ruling military regime to release her in July 1995. The ruling State Law and Order Council, Slorc, lashed out at Aung San Suu Kyi last week to prevent her from meeting members of her political party, the National League for Democracy, who had flocked to Rangoon from all over Burma.

A high ranking intelligence officer, Colonel Kyaw Thein, yesterday said restrictions placed on Ms Suu Kyi were only temporary but did not say when they would be lifted. The colonel said the military had blocked the opposition-party meeting, scheduled last weekend, because it was planned "in collusion" with the US embassy and was intended to spark riots. Both the US embassy and opposition sources denied the charges as absurd.

With riot police menacing anyone who approached her home, Aung San Suu Kyi, , was unable to hold her usual weekend rallies. But she attracted thousands of Burmese willing to brave being spotted by the dozens of police spies who pushed into the crowd with their video cameras, recording faces."Aung San Suu Kyi will keep on holding her rallies if they let her.

But the police will do their best to scare away her supporters. The last time they tried to stop it, thousands came and the generals lost face. They don't want this to happen again," said one opposition source contacted in Rangoon. The arrest of 500 activists was seen as a serious blow to her pro-democracy movement. "They've taken in everybody, from her senior advisers down to the the village district officers," said this source.

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