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Myanmar Opposition Decries Arrests

September 9, 1998

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) _ In a strike against the opposition’s plan to convene a parliament elected in 1990, Myanmar’s military government has arrested 303 members of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s political party, the party said today.

Among those arrested in the crackdown that began Sunday were 129 members of parliament, said Tin Oo, vice chairman of Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy.

Party leaders asked for a meeting with generals from the ruling military council today to discuss the arrests, the party said in a statement. There was no response from the government.

``The National League for Democracy calls for the unconditional release of its members and strongly condemns the arbitrary arrests by the authorities,″ the party said.

Since May, 187 elected members of parliament plus 334 other National League for Democracy members have been imprisoned by the military, the party said.

Several Western governments, including the United States, and international human rights groups have issued sharp condemnations of the crackdown in Myanmar, also known as Burma.

Tin Oo said that not only National League for Democracy members had been arrested but also members of political parties representing some ethnic groups, such as the Chins, the Mon and the Rakhines.

Suu Kyi has not been seen in public since the arrests began. Her movements have been sharply restricted by the military.

A commentary in state-run newspapers, meanwhile, suggested that Suu Kyi had been conspiring with Western countries to create disturbances and should be deported for allegedly concealing that she was a British citizen.

Personal attacks on Suu Kyi, who won the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize and was under house arrest from 1989 to 1995, are common in the state press but in recent weeks there has been more mention than usual of deporting her.

Suu Kyi’s party won a landslide victory in 1990 elections, but the military has never allowed Parliament to meet. The military had warned the party that convening Parliament on its own would result in arrests.

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