Aung San Suu Kyi free after six years

Issue 

By Richard Horsey

Burmese opposition leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi was released on July 10 after six years under house arrest.

A spokesman for the Burmese junta confirmed that her release was unconditional, and said that she was free to go anywhere and meet anyone as long as she did not violate any laws.

Suu Kyi, 50, was put under house arrest on July 20, 1989, for "endangering the state". She was never charged or tried.

She was the leader of the National League for Democracy, and was arrested for her outspoken attacks on the ruling military, which massacred thousands of unarmed civilians to put down nationwide uprisings in 1988.

Her party later won 81% of the seats in national elections, even though she and most of the other leaders were under detention. The military never honoured the election results.

Since her release she has met several times with the press. Asked how foreign governments should respond, she said: "I would like them to see it as a good sign, as a hopeful sign, but I would like them to regard this with caution. Cautious optimism is what is called for."

She has also has also indicated that she will continue to be outspoken. "The authorities do know that I will be active politically because I consider myself a politician." She told hundreds of people waiting at her gate that she would "continue to do what I have to do".

Delegates to the Socialist International meeting in South Africa burst into applause when they heard of the release.

The deputy president of the organisation, Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, said the Socialist International had campaigned for Suu Kyi to be released by July 11 and this "now seems to have had results". Many of the delegates were wearing badges calling for Suu Kyi's release.

If you like our work, become a supporter

Green Left is a vital social-change project and aims to make all content available online, without paywalls. With no corporate sponsors or advertising, we rely on support and donations from readers like you.

For just $5 per month get the Green Left digital edition in your inbox each week. For $10 per month get the above and the print edition delivered to your door. You can also add a donation to your support by choosing the solidarity option of $20 per month.

Freecall now on 1800 634 206 or follow the support link below to make a secure supporter payment or donation online.