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U.N. Forum Hears Speech by Burmese:

Subject: U.N. Forum Hears Speech by Burmese: Women Told a Cure for Misery Is Power

Attn: Burma Newsreaders
Re: NYTimes: U.N. Forum Hears Speech by Burmese: Women Told a Cure for Misery
      Is Power

September 1, 1995
U.N. Forum Hears Speech by Burmese: Women Told a Cure for Misery Is Power

   HUAIROU, China - In a videotaped address that seemed to radiate across
Asia with its admonitions against intolerance by authoritarian governments
and violence against women, the Burmese Nobel laureate, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi,
Thursday opened a mammoth meeting of private women's groups gathered from all
over the world to shape the issues of the Fourth World Conference on Women,
which opens Monday. 

   "For millenia, women have dedicated themselves almost exclusively to the
task of nurturing, protecting and caring for the young and the old, striving
for the conditions of peace that favor life as a whole," Mrs. Aung San Suu
Kyi said. 

   "It is time to apply in the arena of the world the wisdom and experience"
that women have gained, she added. 

   Her criticism of repressive and male-dominated governments was as blunt,
perhaps more so, than any statement the opposition leader has made since her
release from house arrest this summer, and she said her video-taped message
had only reached China after unspecified "difficulties." 

   The address was an extraordinary beginning for what may be the largest
convocation of women ever assembled to lobby world governments, if only
because it was delivered in China, whose Communist Party leadership has
become so intolerant to the kind of challenge Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi represents
that it has jailed thousands of dissidents and persecuted those who have
undertaken even modest efforts to petition for democratic reform. 

   The women's meetings here, an hour away from the main conference in
Beijing, are private and separate, yet officially connected to the main
conference by an agreement between the United Nations and China. 

   Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi's videotaped message was in marked contrast to the
official male-led Burmese delegation, which, reports say, will insist Burmese
women already have full equality with men. 

   "Insecure people tend to be intolerant," she said, "and their intolerance
unleashes forces that threaten the security of others." 

   In the videotape, recorded in Myanmar, formerly Burma, she said, women
have not been given political power in the countries around the world and
have been exploited in Asia's sex trade. 

   "It is want that has driven so many of our young girls across our borders
to a life of sexual slavery where they are subject to constant humiliation
and ill treatment," she said. "It is fear of persecution for their political
beliefs that has made so many of our people feel that even in their own homes
they cannot live in dignity and security." 

   The official Chinese news media did not report her words, but the many
foreign, shortwave-radio broadcasts that reach China are likely to carry the
speech within a day or two. 

   More than 4,000 women showed up for Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi's address at a
converted cinema that sat only 1,500. Most were turned away. 

   It was not clear what prevented her from delivering her speech in person
except that her arrival as an pro-democracy opposition leader would have
drawn obvious parallels to China's suppresion of its own opposition movement.

   The opening day of the conference, where more than 17,000 delegates have
arrived so far, was also marked by acts of defiance against the Chinese
authorities, who have erected one of the most pervasive and intrusive
security environments ever put in place for a U.N.-sponsored meeting. 

   Outside, the human rights group Amnesty International staged a
demonstration to call attention to the plight of political prisoners around
the world. 

   The Chinese authorities had said they would not tolerate demonstrations
outside the perimeter of the conference site here, and they repeated Thursday
that they will not brook any criticism of Chinese leaders. 

   "The Chinese have said they will not allow free speech on the grounds of
the forum," said Pierre Sane, secretary general of Amnesty International.
"We're calling their bluff." 

   Addressing the security problems, Irene M. Santiago, the executive
director of the conference, said, "We are really going to hold the U.N.
accountable to us" to insure that freedom of expression is guaranteed and
that harrassment of delegates and journalists is ended. 

   During a news conference Thursday, Ms. Santiago also spoke with
exasperation about the problems that have afflicted the forum because of
inadequate services and the physical separation from the conference in

   But she added, some Chinese officials have tried to help the women make
the best of the site, which she said was far superior to that of the Nairobi
conference in 1985.

Copyright 1995 The New York Times

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