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IN THE NEWS - May 11, 2002: Aung San Suu Kyi Released - 2002-05-10

This is Steve Ember with the VOA Special English program, IN THE NEWS.

Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi was freed Monday after nineteen months of house arrest. Thousands of supporters welcomed the leader of the National League for Democracy as she travelled to party headquarters. People gathered in the streets of Rangoon to cheer her release.

Mizz Aung San Suu Kyi said her release was a “new dawn” for Burma. She said the military government placed no conditions on her release. She also said she was ready to cooperate with the military government.

The government also seemed to express a new willingness to change. It announced that it firmly believed in letting all citizens take part in the political process. Government officials also said that Mizz Suu Kyi will be permitted to travel anywhere in Burma. But, they said she would be provided security.

Aung San Suu Kyi is the daughter of Aung San who led Burma to its independence from Britain in nineteen-forty-eight. He was killed shortly before that independence became official. Her mother held important political positions after Aung San’s death, including serving as Burma’s ambassador to India.

Aung San Suu Kyi entered Oxford University in Britain in nineteen-sixty-four. She studied politics and economics. She married student Michael Aris. Their two children were born in the early Nineteen-Seventies.

In nineteen-eighty-eight, Mizz Suu Kyi made a trip back to Burma to care for her sick mother. When she arrived her country was in political crisis. There was growing activism against Burmese military rulers.

Aung San Suu Kyi joined in the activism. She soon became the leader of the opposition. She formed the National League for Democracy. She travelled the country speaking to huge gatherings of supporters although such meetings were banned.

The Burmese government arrested the N-L-D leader for the first time in nineteen-eighty-nine. She was restricted to her house in Rangoon for the next six years. In Nineteen-Ninety, Burma held parliamentary elections. The N-L-D won eighty-two percent of the seats. However, the military government canceled the results. The Burmese Parliament never met.

Aung San Suu Kyi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in nineteen-ninety-one. Her sons accepted the award for their mother. The Burmese opposition leader had refused a government offer to let her leave the country if she would never return.

United Nations official Razali Ismail helped secure the release of Mizz Suu Kyi Monday. He had organized secret talks between the opposition leader and the Burmese military government in October, two-thousand. Thursday, the government said it was preparing for more such talks. Aung San Suu Kyi says the next step is discussions about policy.

This Special English program IN THE NEWS was written by Caty Weaver. This is Steve Ember.