Saturday, November 13, 2010
Image via WikipediaMyanmar Junta Frees Dissident Daw Aung San Suu Kyi - NYTimes.com
YANGON, Myanmar — Myanmar’s pro-democracy leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, was freed from house arrest on Saturday, setting her on the path to a possible new confrontation with the generals who had kept her out of the public eye for 15 of the past 21 years.
As she stepped out of the lakeside compound where she had been confined for the last seven and a half years in her latest period of house arrest, she was greeted by thousands of jubilant supporters, some of them in tears. Waving and smiling, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate could barely be heard over the cheering and chanting.
“We haven’t seen each other for so long, I have so much to tell you,” she said, immediately re-establishing the bond that has made her such a challenge to the military she confronts.
Her release, just five days after an election that recast the structure of military rule in Myanmar, suggested that the generals who rule the country were confident of their position and ready to face down the devotion she still commands both among her countrymen and among Western nations.
But the election itself, which drew accusations of fraud from almost all opposition parties, opened a new area of discontent that her lawyers said she planned to exploit by joining their challenge to the legitimacy of the election.
The government made no immediate statement regarding her release, but the police removed barricades from around her villa and allowed crowds to flood into the street. She said she would make a public address on Sunday.
The scene at the gates of her compound suggested that her popularity was undiminished. "She is our mother, she is our mother!” cried a woman in the crowd.
It was the kind of outpouring she had experienced twice before on earlier releases from house arrest, and both times she was detained again after testing the limits of her freedom.