Aung San Suu Kyi, a pro-democracy leader in Burma has been released by the Burmese government, after 15 plus years of house arrest. She serves as a hero to the Burmese community, her party, as well as the remaining 2,200 political prisoners in the country.
The release came a week after Burma held its first elections (in 20 years), which was coincidentally won by the biggest military-backed party (Union Solidarity and Development Party). The Burmese government however, did not allow for any international election monitors to enter country, a move which has been condemned by the international community and leaders at the United Nations.
Suu Kyi’s own party, the National League for Democracy won the last election in 1990 but was not allowed to take power, in 1991 she was the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for her work.
Despite the excitement and joy regarding Suu Kyi’s release, no one knows what is to happen next. Will she and the NLD begin the move forward and push towards regime change? Will this result in her being arrested once again? Why did the government release her so soon after the election? There is room for much speculation as to why the release came at this time: perhaps the government hopes to improve their legitimacy and international image or are constructing a diversion for international press covering their “failed” election. This may even be a relatively short lived period of freedom for Suu Kyi, as no one is to know if the government will arrest her again to reassert their power.
It is without a doubt that the NLD and followers of Suu Kyi are ecstatic about her release, but we can not help but worry what the repercussions will be in the coming weeks.
Although anxiety exists, it was a proud day full of promise and hope, here Suu Kyi expresses her positive outlook for her people’s future:
“We must work together, we Burmese tend to believe in fate, but if we want change we have to do it ourselves.”
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By Anita Issagholyan
Photo attributed to: Department for International Development