Aung San Suu Kyi free after six years


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.

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