Fri 27 May 2005
Filed under: Inside Burma,News
Aung San Suu Kyi’s pro-democracy party on Friday marked the 15th anniversary of its aborted 1990 election victory by reiterating its long-standing calls for a dialogue with the ruling military junta and the release of all political prisoners including its leaders.
The landslide election victory by the National League for Democracy was not recognized by the ruling military, which refused to let Parliament convene and instead stepped up harassment of the party. Suu Kyi, the 1990 Nobel peace laureate, was under house arrest at the time, as she is again today.
The anniversary celebration at party headquarters was attended by 350 NLD members, and by veteran politicians and diplomats from Britain, the United States, Australia and Germany, all nations which shun the junta for its failure to hand over power.
NLD chairman Aung Shwe read a statement sounding the same themes the party has been stressing for the last decade: a call for the ruling junta to release political prisoners from detention, and for the government – as a first step to solving the crisis – to open a dialogue with the party.
The statement said any political issue including the convening of Parliament “can be solved through politically substantive negotiations with a fair attitude and open mind.”
In a brief speech, party vice chairman U Lwin said the NLD “had faith in the democratic system” and did not believe the political stalemate should be solved through violence.
His words were an apparent reference to May 7 bombings of three public places in the capital, Yangon, which killed at least 19 people and injured more than 160. The military government has blamed dissidents based in neighboring Thailand but no arrests have been announced.
Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy won 392 seats out of 485 seats in the 1990 election, which the military itself had called.
After the election, the junta insisted that the country needed a new constitution before a civilian government could be installed. It had suspended the previous constitution when it came to power in 1988 after violently suppressing mass pro-democracy demonstrations.
The junta in 2003 announced a seven-step roadmap to restore democracy, beginning with a national convention to draft a new constitution which opened in May last year.
The NLD refused to take part in the convention, in part because Suu Kyi was not released. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate has been under detention since May 30, 2003 when her convoy was ambushed by a pro-junta mob during her political tour of northern Myanmar.