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A Free Suu Kyi Inspires Burmese Refugees

IMPHAL, Nov 14: Just as all the liberal countries in the world have hailed the release of Suu Kyi from House arrest on November 13, Myanmarese pro-democracy activists taking asylum in Manipur have welcomed the release of Suu Kyi from house arrest by the ruling military junta that this has ignited a new hope for democracy to come back to the country.

In the last 21 years, Suu Kyi has been kept confined inside her lakeside house by the Junta for 15 years.

There are over 2000 political prisoners who have been languishing in prisons in Myanmar for years, they said and added they should also be freed.

The activists, however, have also dubbed the recent election in Myanmar, calling it a sham which was conducted in the most undemocratic manner. Suu Kyi was not only barred from contesting the election but the National League for Democracy, which she heads, did not participate in the poll process.

A Nobel peace prize winner, Suu Kyi was freed from the lakeside home that had been her prison for over 15 years since her party National League for Democracy (NLD) won a landslide victory in the election conducted in 1998 on August 8.

Over three hundred activists belonging to several groups including BSO that are fighting for restoration of democracy to Myanmar have been living in Manipur since the military Government cracked down and massacred thousands of demonstrators in August 1988.

Since Manipur shares over 300 km porous border with Burma, around 300 of them came here to seek political asylum.

Those who have been given refugee status by the State Government, are among ten thousand Myanmarese nationals who escaped their country and are scattered across the world after the crackdown.

To a query, Thura, who is in charge of the activists taking asylum in ‘˜Western Burma Border’ areas including Manipur, Nagaland and Mizoram said Suu Kyi had a meeting with NLD leaders and added, ‘we are expecting some positive outcome from it.’

On the basis of the meeting and its outcome we will chalk out our future course of action to bring back democracy in our country,’ Thura added.

On the just concluding election, he reacted ‘We strongly oppose it as it was not a free and fair one. The Constitution framed by the Junta had already reserved 25 seats for them.’

We never supported that election. It was a farce poll and as such NLD did not contest it,’ Thura said.

Other pro-democracy activists are living in other parts of India, Thailand, Norway and the US but they are linked together and keep in touch with each other.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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