Suu Kyi new travel bid blocked

YANGON, Reuters

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s latest bid to defy government restrictions on her freedom of movement was foiled on Thursday when she was barred from boarding any trains to visit the northern city of Mandalay.

Dozens of supporters of Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) who had gone to Yangon’s main station ahead of her planned trip were rounded up by riot police, witnesses said. It was not known where they were taken or what happened to them.

The 55-year-old Nobel laureate and several party colleagues went to the station in the afternoon, saying they planned to travel to Mandalay to check reports of a government clampdown there on the NLD, which won 1990 elections by a landslide but has never been allowed to govern.

But all the scheduled trains for Mandalay left without her. Authorities said they were all full. Dozens of riot police were posted at the station and journalists were not allowed inside.

It was not clear whether Suu Kyi would return to her Yangon residence or stay in the station overnight in another protest against restrictions on her movement.

Suu Kyi was released from six years of house arrest in 1995 and her movements remain severely restricted.

Her last attempt to visit Mandalay by train, in 1996, was foiled when the authorities disconnected her carriage from the train just before departure, citing technical problems.

Attempts to leave the city by car have also been blocked, and Suu Kyi has been involved in three lengthy roadside stand-offs since 1998, after being stopped by police.