Aide says Suu Kyi facing continued harassment

  • ASEAN+
  • Saturday, 24 May 2003

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) - Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has faced constant intimidation and harassment by a group aligned to the military junta during her ongoing travels in northern Myanmar, her party spokesman said Saturday. 

Suu Kyi is on a monthlong trip to the Kachin state, her seventh political tour of the country since being released by the ruling junta from house arrest last year as part of a reconciliation effort that has since stalled. 

But at least two of her previous trips have also been marred by allegations of harassment, provoking criticism that the junta is not serious about allowing Suu Kyi the political freedoms it had promised. 

U Lwin, the spokesman of her National League for Democracy Party, said the harassment was being carried out by members of the government-sponsored Union Solidarity Development Association. 

"Throughout the trip, Aung San Suu Kyi and party members met constant intimidation and obstruction by members of the USDA. 

Before entering the towns, USDA members wait for Suu Kyi with signboards which say 'Oppose those pessimists and stooges who depend on external elements,''' U Lwin said. 

In some places, USDA members carrying swords and sticks blocked the road, he said. 

The party complained to the authorities but no action was taken against the USDA members, he said. 

The government has in the past denied sponsoring harassment and obstruction of Suu Kyi, but it did not comment on the latest allegation. 

The USDA was formed in 1993 as a social organization and reportedly has 19 million members, avowedly loyal to the junta. 

U Lwin said Suu Kyi has so far opened nine party branch offices including the township party office in the Kachin State capital, Myitkyina, since she began her trip on May 6, the first anniversary of her release from 19-months house arrest. 

She will open five more party branches before she returns to the capital on June 4, in time for a meeting with the special U.N. envoy Razali Ismail. 

He is scheduled to arrive in Myanmar on June 6 to rekindle the reconciliation process, which he had helped initiate in October 2000. 

The current junta came to power in 1988 after crushing a pro-democracy uprising. It called elections in 1990 but refused to hand over power even though Suu Kyi's NLD won overwhelmingly. 

It still has made no major concessions to the NLD except releasing a few hundred political prisoners. More than 1,000 political detainees still remain in jails. - AP 

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