Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi defied the military government's ban on her rallies for the second straight weekend, criticizing the law Saturday as she and about 4,500 supporters broke it.
The hourlong rally outside Suu Kyi's home passed peacefully, without military intervention. It was held as two U.S. envoys wrapped up a six-nation visit to Asia to gauge regional response to the military crackdown in Burma.The weekend gatherings defy a sweeping law announced June 7 that allows the military to confiscate the property of anyone deemed a threat to state stability and impose a jail sentence of up to 20 years.
The military has not moved to suppress the rallies, and Suu Kyi, 1991 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, has softened her attacks against the ruling generals who recently arrested 262 of her supporters.
Still, she criticized the ban that clearly is aimed at muzzling her activities as detrimental to the emergence of a democracy and a peace-ful transfer of power from the military to the people.
"For the emergence of a multiparty democratic system, there should be less restrictions and people should be allowed to take part in political activities freely," she said.
The National League for Democracy won 1990 elections in Burma, also known as Myanmar, but the military never recognized the results and kept Suu Kyi under house arrest for six years until last July.
Her party, she said Saturday, never has done anything to "endanger law and order, peace and tranquility or national recon-sol-i-dation."
The United States and other Western countries have condemned the regime's attempts to silence the pro-democracy movement and President Clinton sent a pair of envoys to sound out the views of Burma's neighbors.
Former U.S. Ambassador to Thailand William Brown and Stanley Roth, a former member of the National Security Council, said Saturday in Thailand that there is regional agreement that dialogue between Burma's military and pro-democracy leaders is needed to avoid bloodshed.
"We found large areas of consensus, shared concerns about further violence in Burma. What we all want is a prosperous, stable Burma," Brown said.
Neither he nor Roth would reveal details of their talks in Japan, the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.
Southeast Asian governments' policy thus far has been to maintain economic and business ties with Burma and avoid interfering in its internal political affairs. They oppose Western attempts to apply pressure with trade embargoes.
Brown said that if the situation in Burma continued to deteriorate, the United States may take diplomatic, political or economic measures against the country. He did not elaborate.