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Suu Kyi Could Face Death Penalty for Treason, Burmese Newspaper Warns
Suu Kyi

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From 03 May 2000 AP
and Free Burma Coalition

(Rangoon, Burma) Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her followers could face the death penalty or life imprisonment for high treason stemming from alleged links to outlawed rebel groups, a government newspaper said Tuesday.

A commentary in the Mirror daily accused Suu Kyi, winner of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize, of being "power crazy," trying to block foreign aid and investment, and attempting to foment disunity among the country's ethnic minorities.

The accusations came as the military regime played host to economic ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Japan, China and South Korea, its biggest diplomatic event since Myanmar was admitted into ASEAN in 1997.

The government, often criticized by Western nations for human rights abuses, has recently arrested members of Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy for alleged links to rebel groups that maintain a fading armed struggle against the regime along Burma's border with Thailand.

"There is evidence that Suu Kyi has contacts with dissidents and armed terrorist groups," the commentary said. Hence "Suu Kyi and her accomplices could face the death penalty or life imprisonment" for high treason.

The newspaper also said people in Burma were losing confidence in Suu Kyi and wanted the government to take concrete action against her in the national interest.

Nearly all newspapers in Burma are run by the government. Editorials and commentaries often rail against Suu Kyi, who was vaulted to world prominence during a bloody, unsuccessful uprising against military rule in 1988.

Suu Kyi was placed under what became six years of house arrest in 1989, but a year later her party swept general elections. The military, surprised that parties it had supported lost, never allowed parliament to convene.

The National League for Democracy espouses nonviolence. According to international human rights groups, hundreds of its members have been jailed for their political views.

Last week, Aye Thar Aung, a senior party official responsible for issues related to ethnic minorities, was arrested and reportedly accused of connections to anti-government rebel groups.

The Mirror lashed out at Suu Kyi, whose activities are severely restricted, for smuggling videotapes out of Myanmar. It said they were sent to international conferences to discredit the government.

It accused Western embassies of abusing their diplomatic immunity by helping to smuggle tapes out.

In one interview smuggled out Thursday, Suu Kyi said military authorities arrested more than 40 NLD youth members in mid-April.

The government said a couple of NLD activists were being questioned for alleged connections with a "terrorist demolition team" near the Thai border.

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