covering burma and southeast asia
Thursday, September 24, 2020



By The Irrawaddy DECEMBER, 2004 - VOLUME 12 NO.11

(Page 20 of 25)


Aung San Suu KyiCuriously, the detention extension came at an awkward time, during the summit meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or Asean, in Laos, although the junta could have intended to show demonstratively that it regarded Suu Kyi as an ordinary citizen, just one among 50 million, and not one of Burma’s leading personalities.


Sr-Gen Than Shwe later told the visiting Thai prime minister that Suu Kyi could not be released because on three previous occasions when she had been freed from detention “difficulties” had arisen.


Although the conditions of her house arrest place restrictions on visitors, it was rumored that senior members of her National League for Democracy, or NLD, are allowed to meet her, and that she and NLD leaders are in frequent contact by mail. Suu Kyi herself has remained silent since her detention last year, although NLD sources say she is impatient to be released and to get back to work.


Her popularity remains undiminished, although there have been calls for reforms within her party. It has been suggested that if she called openly for an end to international sanctions on Burma she could win her freedom.


Although Suu Kyi is still a vocal critic of the military government, some foreign observers said she seemed to get on well with Deputy Sr-Gen Maung Aye when they met for supper a few years ago.


The junta’s continuing reluctance to release Suu Kyi may be related to the planned resumption of the National Convention next February. Previously, her party boycotted the National Convention. The NLD walked out of the assembly in 1996.


Observers also note that Suu Kyi and her party members are demanding an independent inquiry into the true circumstances surrounding the attack on her campaign convoy in Depayin, upper Burma, in May 2003, after which she was arrested and detained.


Gen Khin Nyunt (former prime minister)


In October, Burma’s once powerful spy chief and prime minister was removed and placed in detention. Top military leaders said Gen Khin Nyunt was involved in corruption and bribery and did not obey orders.


Gen Khin NyuntKhin Nyunt’s wife, Dr Khin Win Shwe, and their children, were also detained, in a round-up of former leaders and Office of the Chief of Military Intelligence, or OCMI, staff.

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