The actions of the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) to suppress
the National League for Democracy's (NLD) party congress on 27 September
are totally unacceptable, and yet another example of the SLORC's total disregard
for normal political freedoms. There are reliable reports that at least
fifty six NLD members of Parliament elect and more than thirty two party
organisers have been detained. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and other senior party
leaders have not been detained so far.
It appears that action was taken against the party congress to prevent discussion
of the NLD' s proposed national constitution - a constitution the NLD is
drafting in parallel with the constitution of the SLORC-sanctioned National
Convention. The Burmese authorities claimed that the participants in the
congress were acting in contravention of a draconian decree the SLORC had
passed in June 1996.
The SLORC used similar heavy-handed methods to disrupt the NLD's last party
congress in May 1996. In the lead-up to that congress, 262 NLD members were
detained, the majority Mps-elect. Sixty-one of these are still in detention.
I have asked our Ambassador in Rangoon to protest to the Burmese authorities
about these actions in the strongest terms. In the meantime, we will be
monitoring the situation closely to see what further action we should take.
I urge the SLORC to abandon its repression of non-violent political opposition
and address its differences with the NLD in a spirit of reconciliation and
compromise. I call upon it to release all those detained immediately.
For further information contact Peter Collins on (06) 277 7500 or .