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Freed Suu Kyi deputy calls for dialogue
Yangon, Feb 14 (Agencies)
Published on 14 Feb. 2010 11:46 PM IST
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Aung San Suu Kyi’s deputy urged Myanmar’s ruling junta on Sunday to engage in dialogue with the opposition before elections this year, as he took his first steps outside as a free man for seven years. Tin Oo, 83, the vice chairman of the National League for Democracy (NLD) party, made the appeal as he offered prayers at Yangon’s famed Shwe Dagon pagoda following his release from house arrest late Saturday. “Because I am a Buddhist I came here to wish for peace for all Myanmar people,” he said as he toured the imposing religious monument, accompanied by his wife and around a dozen NLD officials. “My feeling now is that I wish to find a way through successful dialogue that the whole country can live unitedly and peacefully.” The veteran activist said however that his own release means nothing if Nobel Peace laureate Suu Kyi, 64, and around 2,100 other political prisoners are still detained when the elections take place. Tin Oo had been held since 2003 when he and Suu Kyi were arrested after a pro-regime mob attacked their motorcade during a political tour, killing 70 people. He was a former Army general and defence minister who was forced into retirement in the 1970s after falling foul of the country’s military rulers. He was in trouble again in the 1990s because of his involvement with the NLD. “How can I be glad (that I am free) when there are so many who have been sentenced to life imprisonment? It is not enough to release me alone,” Tin Oo said. “All people will be happy if all things can be discussed and a solution can be reached.” The NLD says it has not yet decided if it will take part in the elections which Myanmar’s junta has promised to hold at some point in 2010, amid claims that they are a sham designed to tighten the generals’ grip on power. They will be the first polls since 1990 when Suu Kyi and Tin Oo led the NLD to a landslide victory that the junta refused to recognise. Suu Kyi has spent most of the following two decades in detention. Tin Oo’s release late Saturday came shortly before the United Nations human rights envoy for Myanmar, Tomas Ojea Quintana, was due to visit the military-ruled nation on Monday to examine its progress. Quintana expects to meet the Foreign Minister during the trip but not reclusive junta leader Senior General Than Shwe. He also wants to see Suu Kyi but has not been told if the regime will allow him to.

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