Burma’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi is to make her first political trip outside her Rangoon home city since she was freed from house arrest nine months ago, her spokesman said Sunday.
The Nobel laureate’s National League for Democracy (NLD) is discussing with the government on security arrangements to be made during her one-day trip to Bago region, about 50 miles (80 kilometres) north of Rangoon, on April 14.
Aung San Suu Kyi will “meet all her supporters and members of her party” in Bago and nearby Thanatpin town, and “open libraries there,” NLD spokesman Nyan Win told RFA.
NLD, he said, is coordinating with the authorities on the critical security aspects of her trip.
“There will be arrangement between authorities and her body guards,” he added.
Most of the security personnel will be her own, but there will also be some provided by the authorities, according to Nyan Win.
Aung San Suu Kyi has spent most of the last two decades in detention or under house arrest, from which she was freed in November last year after elections held by the then ruling military junta.
The few times that she traveled to rural areas during her brief spells of freedom, the military generals had harassed her.
In 2003 particularly, her visit to Depayin in northern Burma which drew large crowds was marred by what many believed was an assassination attempt against her by groups linked to the military junta.
Her motorcade was attacked by pro-junta thugs, resulting in the death of 70 of her supporters in what is known today as the Depayin massacre. She was thrown back into house arrest after the bloody incident.
Her upcoming trip will be the second outside Rangoon since her November release.
Last month, Aung San Suu Kyi made a private visit to an ancient temple city in central Myanmar with her son, drawing large crowds.
In another positive signal two weeks ago, the 66-year-old opposition leader held her first official talks with the country’s new nominally civilian government.
After the meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi, Labor Minister Aung Kyi read out a joint statement, saying the talks touched on matters of “law and order” and “easing of tensions for the benefit of the people.”
The meeting was “positive,” and the two have agreed to continue with the talks, according to the statement.
Experts say Aung San Suu Kyi’s “political” trip will be a crucial test for the civilian government of General-turned-President Thein Sein installed in March.
Burma’s government, many believe, remains under the tight grip of the same generals who stifled political freedom and have been blamed for blatant human rights abuses.
Human rights groups believe there are about 2,000 political prisoners still being held under unfavorable conditions in prisons across the country.
Reported by RFA’s Burmese service. Translated by Kyaw Min Htun. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.