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AIDS clinic faces pressure after Suu Kyi visit

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • The pro-democracy activist is greeted by thousands of supporters at the center
  • Government officials tell its director the same day it must vacate its premises
  • The center has been threatened before, but this time seems more serious, he says
  • The private clinic isn't financed by Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy, he says

(CNN) -- An AIDS clinic visited by Myanmar's democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi has come under pressure from the government since her visit, its director said Sunday.

Suu Kyi -- the Nobel Peace Prize laureate released from house arrest this month -- visited the center in the suburbs of the capital Yangon on Wednesday, its director said.

She was greeted by thousands of people during her stop there, which lasted several hours, said the director, Yazar, who uses only one name.

She chose to visit the HIV/AIDS center because she wanted to meet people who need help the most, Yazar quoted her as saying.

The center has since been warned to leave its premises by local authorities in Dangon township and by the ministry of health, Yazar said.

"We are very worried because the authorities gave us until November 25 to move out of our place," he said.

"We have received this kind of threat before, but this time the warning is rude, much stronger and seems to be very serious," he said.

Township authorities came to the center the day of Suu Kyi's visit, he said, demanding it shut down because of complaints from neighbors and because they said it is not appropriate to run it in a busy residential area.

Yazar asked to see the complaint letter, but was denied, he said.

Local authorities also denied residence permits to about 80 clinic patients, most of whom are poor and from outside the area. Citizens of Myanmar, also known as Burma, must ask permission to reside outside of their home area.

On Friday, officials from the military government's ministry of public health came to inform the center that they cannot operate their service and need to move all patients to the government run HIV/AIDS center instead, Yazar said.

The Ministry of Public Health did not respond to CNN requests for comment.

The privately run center has been operating since 2002 and has been in its present location for five years, Yazar said.

It is financed by donations. A member of Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy's central committee, Phui Phui Thin, gives regular help to the center, Yazar said, but the center is not financed by the party.

It has about 80 AIDS patients accommodated in two buildings.

CNN's Kocha Olarn in Bangkok, Thailand, contributed to this report.