Hostages cheer Burmese captors

Probably the most bizarre sight after a dramatic siege at the Burma (Myanmar) Embassy in Bangkok at the weekend was that of hostages cheering their former captors.

It appeared to be more than a case of bonding after close confinement with them. There was genuine sympathy with their captors' cause.

The five dissident gunmen held 89 hostages to publicize demands for democracy in Myanmar. They called on the ruling military government to free political prisoners, start a dialogue with the opposition, and convene a parliament.

The siege ended after 25 hours of negotiations when Thailand supplied a helicopter to take them to a safe area on the Thai-Myanmar border.

"I really appreciate them and praise them as heroes of my heart forever," said one hostage. Others wept and praised Thailand for letting the dissidents go.

Thailand's Interior Minister Sanan Kachornprasart also made a comment bound to anger Myanmar. "We have given them safe passage to their own country," he said. "We don't consider them to be terrorists. They are student activists who fight for democracy."

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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