Burmese Military Arrests Opposition Official and Student Leaders
BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) _ Burma’s military government today arrested a top official of the main opposition party as part of an intensified crackdown on dissent, a party spokeswoman said.
Authorities seized Aung Lwin, a member of the nine-man executive committee of the National League for Democracy, said spokeswoman Ma Theingi. She was reached by telephone in Burma’s capital of Rangoon.
She said authorities on Tuesday had arrested three student leaders including Nyo Htun and Zaw Zaw Aung of the All Burma Federation of Student Unions. The federation was formed during last year’s popular uprising against authoritarian rule.
Also arrested that day, she said, were a member of the People’s Progressive Party and a member of another political party, the National Democratic Front.
Ma Theingi said more than 2,000 members of the National League for Democracy have been arrested since September, when army chief Gen. Saw Maung took power and crushed street protests by shooting and jailing demonstrators.
Aung San Suu Kyi, general secretary of the League and the leading opposition figure, said today the authorities ″are trying to tighten things up but it has been coming for a long time.″
″They don’t want us to have democracy,″ she said when reached by telephone in Rangoon. ″For the last few months they have been suppresssing the democratic movement more and more.″
A government spokesman told a news conference Friday that 195 people have been detained since March 13, when a new round of scattered anti-government protests began.
Last year, tens of thousands of people took to the streets demanding an end to a quarter of a century of one-party rule. Thousands were reportedly killed by security forces before and immediately after Gen. Saw Maung reestablished control.
The government has allowed formation of alternative political parties and promised to hold a general election next year. But diplomats say authorities increasingly are concerned about the popularity of Aung San Suu Kyi and her party.
Aung San Suu Kyi said today that the official media for the first time last Friday mentioned her and her party by name in attacking the opposition.
She said authorities on Tuesday published a special newspaper supplement just to repeat the condemnations of the previous day.
Diplomats predict the confrontation may climax next month, when anti- government rallies are expected during anniversaries of the turmoil a year ago.