Burmese Democracy Leader Plans Political Foray Outside Rangoon

Posted August 7th, 2011 at 2:15 pm (UTC-5)
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Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi is set to make a political visit outside Rangoon next week, despite a notice from the pro-military government warning her and her supporters to halt all political activities.

An opposition spokesman, Nyan Win, said the Nobel laureate will visit a region north of Rangoon on August 14 to attend a library dedication and to meet members of a youth forum. He told reporters Sunday the visit will be a one-day trip.

Burma's Home Affairs Ministry issued its warning to Aung San Suu Kyi against engaging in political activity in late June. The government told her and her National League for Democracy party, which was forced by the previous government to dissolve last year, that it was breaking the law by maintaining party offices. The government also warned (in state media) that a political tour under discussion at that time could spark riots and chaos.

There was no immediate government response Sunday to the NLD's tour announcement.

U.S. Senator John McCain, who toured Burma in July, called the government's warning “a step backwards.” He told VOA's Burmese service he hoped the nominally civilian government elected late last year would reconsider its stance and allow Aung San Suu Kyi to travel freely in her homeland.

In 2003, during a political tour of upper Burma, about 70 of Aung San Suu Kyi's supporters were killed in an attack widely seen as an assassination attempt by a pro-government mob. The NLD leader escaped harm, but was later captured by government security forces and sentenced to seven years of house arrest.

The NLD was forced by the former junta to disband as a political party last year, when it boycotted national elections because Aung San Suu Kyi — then under house arrest — was not allowed to participate. Burma's Supreme court later rejected a legal challenge to the dissolution order.