06 May 2002
Aung San Suu Kyi Walks On
Burmese pro-democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has been released from house
After days of speculation and months of secret negotiations with the ruling
military government, Aung San Suu Kyi
has appeared in public for the first time in 18 months. Thousands of
supporters mobbed her as she arrived at the headquarters of her party, the
National League for Democracy (NLD), and the Nobel Peace Prize winner said
her release was unconditional and she was free to go anywhere she wanted.
"I hope to be able to carry out all my duties for my party and my country in
the best possible way," she said.
But Aung San Sui Kyi made it clear she regarded the military government's
decision to free her as only the beginning of a political process. "My
release should not be looked at as a major breakthrough for democracy. For
all people in Burma to enjoy basic freedom - that would be the major
Asked when she believed democracy would come to her homeland, she replied:
"I hope not in too many more years."
U2's Grammy winning song Walk On is dedicated to Aung San Suu Kyi and her
face appears in the video for the track.
Aung San Suu Kyi has long symbolised the struggle of Burma's people to be
free. Her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD) won 82% of the
seats in the 1990 election yet the military refused to transfer power to
Burma's democratically elected leaders.
Under house arrest Aung San Suu Kyi's movements have been severely
restricted, her phone frequently cut and she was prevented from seeing her
family. Hundreds of her supporters have been detained, many suffering
torture and in some cases death.
Her message is a simple one - that only by fighting fear can you truly be
One celebrating supporter, who did not want to be named for fear of
government retribution, said: "I am very proud of her. She is our national
heroine. Now Burma is very poor but when she rules our country I think it
will become better."
The generals who rule Burma have yet to spell out any plans to share power
with the opposition and commentators belileve the challenge facing Aung San
Suu Kyi is to persuade the military to relinquish its grip after 40 years.
More in our Hearts and Minds area
More at www.burmacampaign.org.uk