BURMESE JUNTA FREES 280 PRISONERS - NLD VERY SATISFIED, ENCOURAGED WITH U.N. ENVOYS TALKS

2001-12-03
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 4 - Burma's ruling junta freed 280 prisoners in late November, including a township leader of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD), Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported Tuesday. U Maung Maung Lwin, chairman of the NLD organizing committee for Htan-ta-bin township outside Rangoon, was released Nov. 25 after completing a three-year jail term for "breach of trust," NLD general secretary and spokesman U Lwin told RFA�s Burmese service in a telephone interview. U Maung Maung Lwin was one of 280 prisoners freed that day, he said, though the number of political prisoners in the group remains unclear. "This is the first time so many prisoners have been released at once," he said. U Lwin, who meets several times weekly with NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi, also said party members were "very satisfied and encouraged with what we heard" from United Nations special envoy Razali Ismail. Razali has just concluded a sixth visit to Burma in an effort to ease the country out of its long-running political stalemate. "What we heard from him is what we had been hoping to hear," he said, though he declined to give details. "We believe Razali is ... qualified and capable to do what the U.N. secretary-general has asked him to do. We are very encouraged by what he told us." Razali, a former Malaysian diplomat, visited Suu Kyi's lakeside home in Rangoon twice last week. He is expected to make a statement on the talks upon his return to New York. Razali is charged with expediting reconciliation between the NLD and the junta that has ruled Burma since 1988. He also met on this visit with Lt. Gen. Khin Nyunt, the third-ranking member of the junta, and with Foreign Minister Win Aung. The junta, which now calls itself the State Peace and Development Council, has held confidential negotiations with Suu Kyi since October last year. No details of the talks are known and no breakthroughs have emerged, but future negotiations will reportedly include Burma�s ethnic minority groups. Suu Kyi, a winner of the Nobel Prize for Peace, led her party to a landslide victory in 1990 elections, though the junta has never honored that outcome. The SPDC, formerly the State Law and Order Restoration Council, came to power after crushing a nationwide pro-democracy movement 13 years ago. Pro-democracy activists worldwide plan to mark the 10th anniversary of Suu Kyi's Nobel prize on Dec. 8. RFA's full report is available on the Web at www.rfa.org. Radio Free Asia (RFA) is a private, nonprofit corporation broadcasting news and information to listeners in those Asian countries where full, accurate, and timely news reports are unavailable. Created by Congress in 1994 and incorporated in 1996, RFA aims to deliver such news reports - along with opinions and commentaries - and to provide a forum for a variety of voices and opinions. RFA currently broadcasts in Burmese, Cantonese, Khmer, Korean, Laotian, Mandarin, the Wu dialect, Vietnamese, Tibetan, and Uyghur. It adheres to the highest journalistic standards and aims to exemplify accuracy, balance, and fairness in its editorial content.

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CH. 1: MANDARIN | CANTONESE

CH. 2: VIETNAMESE | BURMESE | KOREAN

CH. 3: KHMER | LAO | UYGHUR

CH. 4: TIBETAN

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