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Burma Dissidents in Japan Deny Role

Subject: Burma Dissidents in Japan Deny Role in Bombing

Wednesday April 9 10:30 AM EDT 

Burma Dissidents in Japan Deny Role in Bombing

TOKYO (Reuter) - Burmese dissidents in Japan on Wednesday denied Rangoon
government claims that
they were behind a parcel bomb attack in Rangoon, saying the blast was
linked to a power struggle among
the country's ruling generals. 

A statement released in Tokyo by the Burma Joint Action Committee, an
umbrella group representing
dissidents, said the attack, which killed the daughter of a leading general,
ran against the group's belief in
peaceful protest. 

"That blast had nothing to do with us," it said. "Here in Japan, the
movement against the (Burmese)
military has always been peaceful, disciplined and within the bounds of
Japanese law." 

The explosion at the house of Lieutenant-General Tin Oo on Sunday evening
killed his daughter, Cho Lei
Oo, 34. 

Tin Oo is one of the four most powerful men in the Burmese government and is
designated as Secretary
Two of the ruling State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC). 

A dissident representative told Reuters he was sorry to hear of the killing
and stressed the dissidents'
commitment to non-violence. 

"Even with our demonstrations, we have to follow (Japanese) police orders,"
said Aung Thu,
general-secretary of the Burma Youth Volunteer Association (Japan), a member
group of the committee. 

The Burma Joint Action Committee represents four major groups of some 200
active dissidents out of a
Burmese expatriate community in Japan of about 10,000, he said. 

The committee statement said that before the attack international media had
reported on a power struggle
within SLORC. "It is very clear that the recent blast is related to that
power struggle," it said. 

The statement added: "Letters and parcels addressed to SLORC generals have
to pass through a security
check, so the accusations against us are baseless lies." 

Burma's military government, already fraught with international image
problems and simmering domestic
unrest, said in a statement late on Tuesday that the attack was masterminded
by anti-government groups
based in Japan. 

"Initial investigation revealed that the terrorist bomb that exploded at
Lieutenant-General Tin Oo's
residence on the evening of 6 April 1997 was airmailed from Japan," it said. 

"There are reasons to believe that the bomb plot was masterminded by some
anti-Myanmar (Burma)
government groups within Japan which have resorted to acts of terrorism." 

The Japan-based activists, who include exiled students and professionals,
frequently protest at both the
military junta's crackdowns on pro-democracy forces in Burma and Japan's aid
and trade policies towards
their homeland. 

Japan, whose aid of about $140 million a year makes it the biggest donor to
Burma, has obliquely
criticised Rangoon's periodic crackdowns on pro-democracy forces but held
off from using aid as a lever
to press for democracy. 

Tokyo balances pressure from businesses interested in resource-rich Burma
and officials who want to
increase Japanese influence in Rangoon against calls to join Western
countries in pushing for improved
human rights in Asia. 

The 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of Burma's main
opposition group, the
National League for Democracy (NLD), has studied in Japan and writes a
popular column for a major
Japanese newspaper. 

The dissident groups in Japan which signed the Joint Action Committee
statement were the National
League for Democracy (Liberated Area), the Democratic Burmese Students
Organization, the 8888 Group
and the Burma Youth Volunteer Association. 

Their statement said Burmese democracy activists believed the country's
problems could only be solved
by dialogue.