There have been reports that the detained Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi may be released in November this year when her house arrest ends. The optimism is checked, however, because this would likely come too late for her to actively participate in this year’s much-anticipated elections, the country’s first since 1990. The announcement was made by Home Minister Major General Maung Oo during a local officials meeting held on the 21st January in Kyaukpadaung, Central Myanmar according to Reuters and other news sources.
Suu Kyi has been kept under house arrest for 14 of the past 20 years by the ruling military junta who has been in power since 1962. She was sentenced to an additional 18 months of detention for charges of government subversion when American John Yettaw swam uninvited to her lakeside home. An appeal to overturn her extended detention time was rejected by a Myanmar court and another decision from Myanmar’s Supreme Court is expected in the coming weeks.
A spokesman for the National League for Democracy (NLD) mentioned that her release even if after the elections, would not be politically significant as under Myanmar’s new constitution, her British residency status would render her ineligible for running in the upcoming elections. Her campaigning nonetheless would have had a powerful impact on locals.
The elections will be the first held since 1990 when Suu Kyi’s party, the NLD had achieved a landslide victory that the military leaders refused to acknowledge. Recently, the United States and the European Union have shifted their Myanmar policy from isolation to engagement, as sanctions and trade embargoes proved ineffective. US President Barack Obama has also promised better ties with Myanmar if it pursued democratic reforms and released political prisoners such as Suu Kyi.
Reuters, “Myanmar minister says Suu Kyi to be freed in November”, January 25, 2010, http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE60O0J020100125
The Straits Times, “Suu Kyi may be freed in November”, January 26, 2010, http://www.straitstimes.com/Asia/South-eastAsia/Story/STIStory_482011.ht...
The Times of India, “Myanmar junta could free Suu Kyi in November”, January 25, 2010, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/rest-of-world/Myanmar-junta-cou...