Burma’s military junta released Nobel Laureate and leader of Burma’s opposition party, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi on Saturday, 13 November. (See here) Daw Suu Kyi had been under house arrest for 15 of the last 21 years.
The following is a statement from her party, the National League for Democracy, issued on Saturday.
We celebrate the release of our leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi from unlawful house arrest, and call on the military regime to guarantee her safety and grant her full freedom of movement, expression, association and assembly.
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was previously released in 2002; upon her release, a SPDC spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Hla Min stated, “We shall recommit ourselves to allowing all of our citizens to participate freely in the life of our political process, while giving priority to national unity, peace and stability of the country as well as the region.” The regime failed to live up to this commitment and instead directly compromised Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s personal and political freedoms in their violent attempt to reassert control and eliminate political opposition in 2003.
In liaison with the Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA), the regime orchestrated a brutal attack on Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy (NLD) convoy in 2003, in what is now known as the Depayin Massacre. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi narrowly escaped with her life, while 100 NLD members and bystanders were tragically killed in the attack. The military regime wrongfully arrested Daw Aung San Suu Kyi several days later on 30 May 2003; the NLD leader has remained under detention ever since.
We condemn the regime’s unlawful arrest of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in 2003, as well as their prior arrests of the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate in 1989 and 2000. This recent release in no way absolves the regime from responsibility for wrongfully detaining and arresting Daw Aung San Suu Kyi on so many prior occasions. Neither does it excuse the regime’s unjustified and unwarranted extension of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s sentence due to John Yettaw’s breach of the conditions of her house arrest in 2009, as she was in no way responsible for his actions.
Moreover, in the lead up to the elections held on 7 November 2010, the regime has demonstrated no commitment to protecting the human rights of the people of Burma, and has rather continued to crack down on political activity, inflicting violent attacks on democracy activists and ethnic communities. The regime manipulated the elections at all levels, and took measures to further perpetuate and entrench the climate of fear throughout Burma in order to ensure an election victory for the regime backed party, the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP).
Early results indicate that the USDP has secured an overwhelming majority of seats in the incoming parliaments. With this victory, the USDP brings its legacy of violence and brutality from its past actions as the USDA to the future government in Burma. The same perpetrators of the Depayin Massacre will hold official roles in the future government, raising concerns about their ability and willingness to ensure that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will be free from persecution, restriction or detention.
It is not enough for the regime to simply release Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. In releasing her, the regime must guarantee that they will respect and protect her political freedoms and human rights; the regime must ensure that it will not once again attack, arrest or detain the democracy leader at their convenience.
We therefore call on the regime to put in place the necessary security measures to guarantee Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s safety, and for the international community to hold the regime accountable.
Furthermore, we call for the release of all 2,200 political prisoners and for the protection of human rights and political freedoms – all necessary benchmarks for genuine democracy, human rights and justice.
Finally, we urge the people of Burma, democracy and ethnic forces, and the international community to support Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in taking a leading role to help bring about peace, national reconciliation, and a genuine federal union in Burma.
Central Executive Committee
National League for Democracy (Liberated Area)