Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Burma's Victor Still Confined Year after Vote

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Burma's Victor Still Confined Year after Vote

Article excerpt

HUMILIATED in national elections in May, Burma's ruling generals ignore the winning opposition and keep its leader under house arrest.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who galvanized the landslide victory from house arrest, begins her second year under military detention today.

Recently, the military junta said the charismatic politician would not be freed, and stonewalled opposition demands for her release and the right to form a new government.

The military government called the election, hoping it would boost Burma's bleak image abroad. Instead, it catapulted Ms. Suu Kyi as a symbol of resistance to Army rule and repression and gave her National League for Democracy (NLD) more than 80 percent of the seats in a new national assembly.

"They misread the election and expected no clear-cut winner," says a senior diplomat contacted by telephone in the Burmese capital, Rangoon. "It's almost as if this election didn't take place."

The poll has left Burma, a once-promising country that slid into economic decline and isolation under the 28-year-rule of strongman Ne Win, in political limbo.

Although officially retired, the general is the real power behind the military junta. Many Burmese believe he engineered the events that led to the 1988 crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in which more than 3,000 people are believed to have been killed, Western observers say.

A year ago, the military government, known as the State Law and Order Restoration Council, detained Suu Kyi for holding political rallies without official permission.

She is the daughter of Aung San, the founder of modern Burma and a onetime associate of Ne Win in the country's independence struggle against the British.

Suu Kyi became the most prominent leader of the pro-democracy movement after returning from exile abroad in 1988, but has often been attacked by members of the often xenophobic military regime for being susceptible to foreign influence.

Recently, Maj. …

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