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Suu Kyi greets freedom amid jubilant supporters

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi was released from house arrest today at 5:15 p.m. local time. Euphoric crowds of supporters greeted her as spoke to them for the first time since 2003 from the front gate of her crumbling lakeside villa on University Avenue in Rangoon.

Wearing a water-hyacinth-coloured blouse and longyi, with single white and red flowers in her hair, and flanked by fellow National League for Democracy party leaders, she told the crowd: “People must work in unison. Only then can we achieve our goals,” the BBC reported.


The lively crowd reportedly took half an hour to subsist and allow her to be heard, the report said.

US President Barack Obama, speaking from the White House, said he was delighted at the release of “heroine” Suu Kyi, and former British prime minister and current patron of rights advocacy group Burma Campaign UK, Gordon Brown, said her freedom today “proves that no injustice can last forever, and while Burma’s junta can continue its policy of repression it has never been able to wholly silence her voice”.

Brown, who has long been a campaigner for Suu Kyi, also said her release was only a “partial victory” because her “liberation and that of the Burmese people will not be complete until she is able to take up her position as the rightful leader of her country. Support from people of good conscience everywhere must continue as she fights for the freedom of her people”.

Current British Foreign Secretary William Hague has called the Nobel Peace Prize laureate “inspirational” and welcomed news of her freedom. He, along with many other observers, has also urged for the further release of all other political prisoners in Burma: “The regime now needs to release the other 2,100 political prisoners and begin a genuine dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi and all opposition and ethnic groups. These remain the crucial first steps to solving Burma’s many problems and addressing the pressing needs of its people.”

Many were concerned that the release of the pro-democracy leader, who has been under house arrest for most of the past two decades, will divert the scrutiny on Burma from the international arena. While the release of Suu Kyi was broadly met with joy, Zoya Phan Burma Campaign UK’s international co-ordinator, said her release was “about public relations, not democratic reform”.

The advocacy group’s statement also said: “The international community should use the release of Aung San Suu Kyi as an opportunity to apply pressure on the dictatorship to enter into genuine dialogue.”

Suu Kyi told the crowd they could meet her at the National League for Democracy party headquarters in Bahan Township at noon tomorrow.

Last Updated ( Saturday, 13 November 2010 21:54 )  

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