Nobel Peace Prize-winning activist organization Amnesty International has welcomed the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, a prisoner of conscience, from house arrest in Myanmar (formerly called Burma).
Suu Kyi co-founded the National League for Democracy (NLD), a pro-democracy political party that sought to counter the military junta that has ruled Myanmar since 1962.
For nearly 15 of the past 21 years, Suu Kyi has endured unofficial detention, house arrest and restrictions on her movement.
“The release of Daw Suu Kyi is beyond overdue,” said Larry Cox, Amnesty International USA executive director.
“Amnesty International members and other activists around the world tirelessly worked for her release for many years and welcome this news. However, many others still languish in Myanmar’s jails for merely expressing their views and must be released immediately.”
Nobel Peace Prize laureate (1991) Suu Kyi was released by the ruling military Saturday. The 65-year-old political torchbearer plans to continue her campaign to achieve democratic system and protection of human rights in her country.
In a similar case, the Nobel Committee decided to give the Nobel Peace Prize 2010 for jailed Chinese human rights activist Liu Xiaobo. Liu, 54, has been spearheading a peaceful movement in China to see democratization of the political process in that country. (Read: Nobel Peace Prize for Chinese Human Rights Activist)
In 1990, the NLD won 80 percent of the parliamentary seats in a general election. Surprised at the landslide victory, the military junta refused to transfer power to Suu Kyi and the NLD and jailed scores of political activists.
Currently 2,200 political prisoners are still in prison, most of them for exercising their right to freedom of expression, assembly and association.
In the United States, Amnesty International USA says its members’ and other activists’ efforts to free Suu Kyi included more than 67,000 pleas to U.S. and global leaders urging them to push Myanmar authorities, more than 11,000 petition signatures and thousands of letters urging the Myanmar authorities to release her and about 2,200 other political prisoners currently detained.
Hundreds of activists have rallied in front of the United Nations headquarters and Myanmar Permanent Mission in New York calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Suu Kyi and all prisoners of conscience in Myanmar, says Amnesty.
Her release has come close on the heels of an election win by the ruling junta’s proxy political party in Myanmar. The military-supported victory is being termed as a sham by political analysts and it is expected that Suu Kyi will work to see the end of authoritarian rule in Myanmar.
Photo courtesy: Amnesty