BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in:  World: Asia-Pacific
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Monday, 6 May, 2002, 05:25 GMT 06:25 UK
Aung San Suu Kyi freed
Aung San Suu Kyi speaking to supporters in 1997
Aung San Suu Kyi was put under house arrest in 2000
Burma's military government has released the pro-democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been under house arrest in Rangoon for the past 20 months.

A government spokesman told the Reuters news agency she was "at liberty to carry out all activities, including her party's" from Monday.

Today marks the start of a new page for the people of Myanmar [Burma] and the international community

Burmese junta

There were jubilant scenes as the opposition leader emerged from her home and arrived at the headquarters of her party, the National League for Democracy, where more than 300 of her supporters had gathered.

A spokesman for her National League for Democracy said the party believes her release is unconditional.

The junta said it was "starting a new page" for the people of Burma.

UN role in release

News of Aung San Suu Kyi's release followed hints last week by the United Nations envoy to Burma, Razali Ismail, that the Nobel Prize winner could be released shortly.

Mr Razali spent four days in talks with Burma's junta and opposition last month in an attempt to break the country's political deadlock.

Aung San Suu Kyi's won a landslide victory in 1990 but the junta refused to give up power.

Aung San Suu Kyi's political life
  • 1988: Returns to Burma during political upheaval
  • 1990: Her party elected to power, result ignored by army
  • 1991: Awarded Nobel Peace Prize
  • 1995-6: Brief release from house arrest
  • 2000: Begins secret talks with generals

      Click here for full profile

  • Burma has faced international isolation and economic sanctions over the issue and over its human rights record.

    The government began secret talks with Aung San Suu Kyi in October 2000, a move hailed as a breakthrough. But in recent weeks, the international community has been voicing its impatience at the lack of progress.

    Our Burma analyst Larry Jagan has said the release of Aung San Suu Kyi was widely regarded as the single most important step the junta could take to show it was considering political change.

    Aung San Suu Kyi, the daughter of assassinated independence hero Aung San, was held under house arrest from 1989 to 1995.

    She was placed back under house arrest in 2000 when she tried to travel by train to Mandalay in defiance of restrictions put on her.

    Her release in 1995 did not herald any political change.

    The BBC's Larry Jagan in Rangoon, Burma
    "She is going to be getting a tremendous welcome"
    The BBC's Fergal Keane
    "Throughout her house arrest she appealled to the international community"
    Burma Campaign UK, John Jackson
    "The UN has been critcal in brokering these talks"
    See also:

    30 Apr 02 | Asia-Pacific
    Hopes mount for Burma breakthrough
    28 Apr 02 | Asia-Pacific
    Burma talks 'make progress'
    24 Apr 02 | Asia-Pacific
    Q&A: Background to Burma talks
    24 Apr 02 | Asia-Pacific
    UN envoy holds Burma talks
    19 Mar 02 | Asia-Pacific
    Analysis: Burma's secret talks
    22 Mar 02 | Asia-Pacific
    Burma's hollow gains
    30 Jan 02 | Asia-Pacific
    Aung San Suu Kyi meets Burma general
    Internet links:

    The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

    Links to more Asia-Pacific stories are at the foot of the page.

    E-mail this story to a friend

    Links to more Asia-Pacific stories