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    » 11/12/2010, 00.00

    MYANMAR

    Burmese junta sign release order, Aung San Suu Kyi soon free



    The leader of the Burmese opposition should be released Friday afternoon. At 5 pm, a press conference is scheduled at the NLD headquarters where hundreds of supporters have already gathered. The authorities tighten security measures around Suu Kyi’s home. Indian Christian activists welcome the news with joy, call for democracy in the country.

    Yangon (AsiaNews) – Burma’s opposition and the international community are waiting to hear that Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Prize winner and iconic figure in Myanmar’s pro-democracy movement, is free. Senior General Than Shwe signed the release order, which Ms Suu Kyi received around noon. Security forces have been deployed in large numbers around the opposition leader’s house on University Avenue, in Yangon. Downtown, some 800 supporters have gathered at the NLD headquarters. Ms Suu Kyi should be able to leave her home between 3 and 4 pm (GMT + 6:30). A press conference is scheduled for 5 pm at party headquarters. However, everything could be put off to tomorrow, when her house arrest formally ends.

    Aung San Suu Kyi, 65, spent 15 of the past 21 years under in one form of arrest or another. The latest, an 18-month sentence of house arrest, came in August 2009 after she was convicted of hosting an American in her home. Right away, most observers saw the conviction as a way to remove her ahead of this week’s general elections, the first in 20 years.

    In the meantime, allegations of vote rigging and election fraud are hovering over the poll. The Nobel Prize laureate said that once free she would work with those investigating the elections. She also said that she would not accept any “conditions” on her release, such as withdrawing from politics or stepping down as leader of Burma’s opposition.

    According to local sources, the junta has a plan to ensure Aung San Suu Kyi’s “safety” that includes a special unit of police officers who had already guaranteed her protection in the past.

    This morning, the authorities also beefed up military and police presence around her house. Around noon, government officials handed Ms Suu Kyi her release papers signed by Senior General Than Shwe, head of the military regime.

    Some reports are saying that the Nobel laureate will leave her home in the afternoon, and that a 5 pm local time, she will hold a press conference at NLD headquarters, already surrounded by crowds of people.

    News about her imminent release has generated interest in the international community as well. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) was one of the first groups to contact AsiaNews to welcome the news. In their statement, the Indian Christian activists said that the “ruling military junta [. . .] has no moral right to continue in power” in Myanmar. Ms Suu Kyi “should be released unconditionally” so that she can get involved again “in the political process”. The GCIC also urged “the military to restore democracy” returning her the election they “hijacked” in 1990.

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    See also

    25/01/2010 MYANMAR
    Aung San Suu Kyi released at end of her sentence in November, Myanmar minister says
    Home Affairs Minister Maung Oo announces opposition leader’s release. This will bar her from taking part in the election called by the military junta. Ms Suu Kyi will purge her entire sentence. An opposition leader says the announcement is “nothing new or extraordinary.”

    29/09/2009 MYANMAR
    Aung San Suu Kyi holds out hand to military junta to end sanctions
    In a personal letter to Generalissimo Than Shwe, the Nobel Prize laureate calls for greater cooperation between the government and the pro-democracy opposition. The UN secretary general meets Myanmar prime minister in new York for UN General Assembly. The US says it is willing to work with Myanmar.

    01/10/2010 MYANMAR
    Senior General Than Shwe to decide “if and when” Aung San Suu Kyi is freed
    Official Burmese sources say military regime strongman has last say on opposition leader’s release, which could occur a few days after “farce” elections are held. Win Tin says that “Daw” Suu will travel the country to rally support for democracy as soon as she is out.

    31/03/2010 MYANMAR
    Burmese leader fears harsh military crackdown
    Win Tin believes that Myanmar’s ruling military junta will crackdown on the National League for Democracy. He anticipates the government to outlaw the party, but is certain that the opposition will continue the struggle “to dismantle the entire military dictatorship”. Tokyo announces a freeze on aid to Myanmar until Aung San Suu Kyi’s release.

    02/02/2009 MYANMAR
    Aung San Suu Kyi meets with UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari
    The pro-democracy leader leaves house arrest for an hour-long talk with the representative of the United Nations. Suu Kyi stresses that the visit of the UN secretary general is "conditioned" on the liberation of political prisoners. From the United Nations, a plan of economic assistance in exchange for concessions on matters of democracy and human rights.



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