Myanmar junta steps up anti-Suu Kyi campaign

The military government of Myanmar (Burma) stepped up its campaign against democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Friday, accusing her and her political party of trying to bring down the government in a “show of force”.

In an article published in a government newspaper, Kyaw Myint Naing wrote that “harmony” had not been achieved between Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party and the government because of its “misconception that only when an authoritarian system has been eliminated can democracy prevail”.

The junta has been on an offensive against Suu Kyi and her supporters after many Western governments, including Japan—the country’s largest aid donor—vowed to tighten economic sanctions unless Suu Kyi was released from jail.

Suu Kyi was arrested May 20th after a pro-government mob attacked her convoy during a political tour in northern Myanmar. Witnesses say dozens of people were killed in the ensuing melee.

The democracy leader was originally housed in the notorious Insein prison in Yangon [Rangoon], but has now been moved to an undisclosed location. The government has given no indication how long she and other NLD members will remain under arrest.

The state-published article also took a swipe at the United Nation’s (UN) special envoy Razali Ismail, saying it didn’t matter how many UN representatives come to Myanmar to talk peace and reconciliation, “these goals still remain far away beyond reach”.

Razali brokered talks between the government and Suu Kyi in October 2000, which led to her release from house arrest, and the start of a political dialogue that has now collapsed.

Razali is the only outsider to see Suu Kyi during his 10th visit to the country last month. He is expected to report on to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan at the end of July.

Editor of the online Myanmar-based newspaper Irawaddy, Aung Zaw, said the government is playing a blame game to save its own skin.

Government newspapers have recently shown undated photos of the

democracy leader with the ruling junta.

“They have stepped up the diplomatic offensive [and] are trying to discredit Aung San Suu Kyi,” Aung Zaw said, adding he did not think the tactics would work.

“It’s a blame game. I think the government is desperate because they really have to counter the pressure from the Western government’s and Asean [Association of Southeast Asian Nations],” Aung Zaw said.

In an unprecedented move last month, the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations called on the junta to release Suu Kyi and her supporters.

Suu Kyi and the NLD won elections in 1990 by a landslide, but were never allowed to take power. She has spent years in and out of house arrest, but this is the first time the Nobel Laureate has been imprisoned. - Sapa-DPA

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