Myanmar`s Suu Kyi pays tribute to hero father

Part of Suu Kyi`s potency as a democracy campaigner stems from Myanmar`s reverence for her father.

Yangon: Aung San Suu Kyi led hundreds of supporters in memorials for her father, Myanmar`s independence hero General Aung San, Tuesday after being permitted to attend the ceremony for the first time since 2002.

Large crowds gathered outside Suu Kyi`s party headquarters in the main city of Yangon, and many followed her as the 66-year-old democracy campaigner made her way to the Martyrs` Memorial.

Suu Kyi, who was released from house arrest after controversial elections last November, last attended the remembrance ceremony nine years ago, before her latest stint under detention began.

Her invitation to the event came shortly after she tested the boundaries of her freedom with her first trip outside Yangon since her release, a four-day visit to the ancient city of Bagan.

Wearing a white blouse and a traditional black wrapped skirt, known as a longyi, she visited the memorial twice, including a brief appearance at an official ceremony attended by government officials and soldiers.

After laying flowers at the memorial which marks the assassination of her father and several other independence leaders on July 19, 1947, she met Western diplomats at the headquarters of her National League for Democracy (NLD).

Plainclothes police took pictures of the crowds gathered there, but officials allowed hundreds of them to pass through checkpoints and continue to the memorial as Suu Kyi returned there, accompanied by NLD figures.

The NLD, which won a landslide election victory two decades ago that was never recognised by the junta, was disbanded by the military rulers last year because it boycotted the November vote, saying the rules were unfair.

Part of Suu Kyi`s potency as a democracy campaigner for political freedom stems from Myanmar`s reverence for her father, who is widely loved for his role in securing independence from the British.

However, he died a year before seeing the colonial rulers finally depart, and the country was soon plunged into nearly half a century of military rule from 1962.

"The struggle for the establishment of a new democratic state was hurt because Bogyoke (General) Aung San and the martyrs were assassinated," said a statement released by the NLD.

It vowed to continue to press for true democracy and renewed calls to free all political prisoners, but added that "settlement through armed struggle could not be beneficial for the future of the country".

Suu Kyi refrained from any overt political activities that might have antagonised the military-dominated government during her four-day excursion to Bagan earlier this month.

She has spent much of the last 20 years as a prisoner in her crumbling lakeside mansion and some observers believe the new government would have no qualms about limiting her freedom again if she is perceived as a threat.

Bureau Report

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