TWO NLD MEMBERS FREED IN BURMA


2004-04-14
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BANGKOK�Two senior members of Aung San Suu Kyi�s National League for Democracy (NLD) party have been released from house arrest by the Burmese authorities, but the opposition leader remained confined to her lakeside home in Rangoon, RFA�s Burmese service reports.

NLD party chairman Aung Shwe, 85, and secretary U Lwin, 80, were released after more than 10 months of house arrest that began shortly after Aung San Suu Kyi�s arrest May 30 during an ambush of her motorcade by government-led gangs near Depayin township in the north of the country.

According to eyewitness testimonies recorded for RFA�s Burmese service, as many as 100 people died and an unknown number of women were raped during the violence, which was planned and orchestrated by the junta.

There has been speculation that Aung San Suu Kyi, the 1991 Nobel Peace laureate, would be freed in mid-April following a visit to Yangon last month by U.N. special envoy Razali Ismail, and before a national convention to draft a constitution, which begins May 17.

Aung Shwe and U Lwin were considered more likely to be freed first because of their participation in the original convention, which collapsed in 1995 after the NLD withdrew. The two have been issued official invitations to attend the May forum.

Aung San Suu Kyi and Tin Oo were kept in undisclosed locations for several months after the May 30 violence before being moved to their homes to be placed under house arrest.

International observers and human rights officials say the convention will be meaningless if held while Aung San Suu Kyi and other top party officials remain confined.

Burma�s Prime Minister, Gen. Khin Nyunt, said in a rare interview in December that his government was trying to gain �mutual understanding� with Aung San Suu Kyi.

Khin Nyunt, a powerful general who is also head of military intelligence, set out a seven-stage �road map to democracy� in August, promising to negotiate with the NLD and other opposition and ethnic minority groups. ###

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