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Crowds Gather To Hear Dissident Burmese Leader

The crowds of well-wishers outside the home of dissident leader Aung San Suu Kyi grew Saturday, even though word of her release hasn’t appeared in Burma’s state-run media.

To keep the swelling crowd from blocking traffic, police were posted for the first time outside the ramshackle house that was her prison for almost six years until Monday.

Mrs. Suu Kyi, 50, was visited by foreign diplomats, and she consoled the family of an activist who was jailed earlier this year for singing pro-democracy songs at the funeral of former Prime Minister U Nu.

In what has become a daily ritual, the 1991 Nobel Peace laureate came to the gate in the mid-afternoon to speak to the well-behaved crowd.

“Your presence shows the people are behind me,” she told them. “I will never betray my country and my people. I am very busy, but I am working for my country and not myself.”

“It is so!” the crowd replied, in a vivid demonstration of her almost legendary capacity to command the loyalty of the masses.

“Can you be disciplined?” she asked, and they shouted back: “Yes, we can!”

“Can you be courageous?” she asked, and they shouted back: “Yes, we can!”

“Can you be smart? If you are smart, we will reach our goal without any danger,” she said.

“Yes, we can!” they replied.

Mrs. Suu Kyi’s party won a general election in 1990, but the military refused to let it take power. Officers have said they will not transfer power to civilians until a new constitution has been drafted, but they have given no timetable.