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Suu Kyi urges courage at Burmese Ne

Subject: Suu Kyi urges courage at Burmese New Year 

Suu Kyi urges courage at Burmese New Year 
02:41 a.m. Apr 14, 1997 Eastern 

RANGOON, April 14 (Reuter) - Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Monday
ushered in the
Burmese New Year by urging her political party to be courageous and
steadfast in its efforts to bring
democracy back to Burma. 

``At the transition to the New Year, we the National League for Democracy
(NLD) have resolved
to go on striving with renewed courage and spirit until we achieve our
ambition,'' Suu Kyi said in a
speech at a ceremony to mark traditional Burmese New Year. 

About 700 NLD members and supporters were allowed through several police
barricades in order
to attend the celebration at the 1991 Nobel Peace laureate's lakeside home. 

The Burmese New Year festival, or Maha Thingyan, is a rare occasion the
military government
allows public gatherings but security has been tight in the capital after
recent unrest by Buddhist
monks and a parcel bombing earlier this month which killed the daughter of a
top official. 

Suu Kyi, who has lived virtually incommunicado from her supporters recently,
told the crowd they
could not give up the fight and urged them to keep backing the NLD no matter
what happened. Her
telephone line appears to have been cut and barricades on the street
normally bar access to her

The ceremony, held on the grounds that served as Suu Kyi's prison during six
years of house arrest
from 1989-1995, was mainly aimed at raising funds for the families of party
members in jail. 

``The main purpose for holding today's ceremony is to raise funds for the
political prisoners,'' Suu
Kyi said, noting that the NLD would never forget those who had made
sacrifices for the cause of

Tables were set up around the large bamboo meeting hall to accept donations.
Proceeds of sales of
NLD souvenirs were earmarked for prisoners and their families. 

Dozens of NLD members and elected members of parliament are in jail for
various offences, mostly
politically related. 

Suu Kyi told reporters last month that the ruling State Law and Order
Restoration Council
(SLORC) had been increasing its ``repression'' and intimidation tactics
against the NLD. 

The NLD won a landslide victory in a 1990 election but was never allowed to
rule because the
military government did not recognise the results of the poll. 

After the election, the SLORC cracked down on the NLD, and arrested many
elected NLD
members of parliament. Over the past year it has renewed its efforts to
silence the opposition party
and has targeted many of its top politicians.