BANGKOK—A top opposition politician recently released from house arrest at his home in Rangoon has called on Burma’s military government to hold talks with his party on the country’s political future.
“There will be a solution if the other side agrees to meet with us and discuss matters,” said National League for Democracy (NLD) vice-chairman U Tin Oo shortly after a ban on leaving his home was lifted.
“That is how we see things. We have been making every effort from our side,” he said, adding that NLD leader and Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, still under house arrest, has called for meetings with representatives of the ruling junta.
He said he has paid a number of calls on fellow opposition politicians and is working closely with NLD youth groups now that he has greater freedom of movement.
But U Tin Oo, 83, who was visited Feb. 12 by officials and told restrictions against him had been lifted, played down his “release.”
Lifting of curbs ‘insignificant’
“Being allowed to leave my house is just a backdrop to the situation, because throughout the whole country there are many still in prison, so I will not use the term 'freedom,'” he said.
“I have just been allowed to leave the house, but always under surveillance. It is nothing that is really of any significance.”
He vowed to continue to work closely with the NLD executive committee. “We will continue to implement all of the decisions made by the party committee,” he said.
U Tin Oo added in an apparent joke that whenever he had been released in the past, the release of Aung San Suu Kyi had followed soon after.
“I think Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will also be released soon,” he said.
He said his six-year detention under house arrest violated Burma’s 1974 Constitution, which he helped to draft.
“There is something called the spirit of the law in legal matters. There is a certain essence in law,” he said, adding that the imprisonment of democracy politicians goes against the spirit of the 1974 Constitution.
“They are also saying that they are building a democratic society. If that is so, there is no reason for them to take legal action against those working for democracy,” U Tin Oo said.
A former chief of staff of the Burmese Army, U Tin Oo was arrested along with Aung San Suu Kyi in May 2003 after a political rally in Depayin township was attacked by supporters of the Burmese military government.
From there, U Tin Oo was sent to Kalemyo prison in Sagaing Division, before being sent home to serve a further six years under house arrest on Feb. 13, 2004.
Original reporting by Ingjin Naing. Translated from the Burmese by Soe Thinn. Burmese service director: Nancy Shwe. Executive producer: Susan Lavery. Written for the Web in English by Luisetta Mudie. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.