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    Burma releases Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest


    by ODN


    Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been released by the Burmese military junta amid scenes of jubilation outside her lakeside home.

    The Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who has been detained for 15 of the past 21 years, was greeted by massive crowds who flooded the streets of Rangoon as news of her freedom spread.

    Huge cheers erupted as she emerged from the compound where she has been held for more than seven years to address thousands of well-wishers.

    "If we work in unity, we will achieve our goal. We have a lot of things to do," she told them.

    The development came a week after the country's first elections in 20 years, which handed victory to the pro-military party but were condemned as a sham by critics.

    Weeping supporters chanted, sang the national anthem and cheered as Ms Suu Kyi promised she would see them again on Sunday, at the headquarters of her party, the National League for Democracy.

    Her release was welcomed by Prime Minister David Cameron and US president Barack Obama as "long overdue".

    Responding to the news of her release, Mr Cameron said: "This is long overdue. Aung San Suu Kyi is an inspiration for all of us who believe in freedom of speech, democracy and human rights."

    Labour leader Ed Miliband said her release was "an important milestone" but warned: "We must see this as only one step in a long journey for Burma."

    Former prime minister Gordon Brown added: "Her liberation and that of the Burmese people will not be complete until she is able to take up her position as the rightful leader of her country."

    However, human rights campaigners cautioned that the release should not be interpreted as a concession by the military junta.

    Amnesty International's secretary general Salil Shetty said: "The fact remains that authorities should never have arrested her or the many other prisoners of conscience in Burma in the first place, locking them out of the political process."

    Ms Suu Kyi had been due for release last year but was convicted for violating the terms of her previous detention by briefly sheltering an American man who swam uninvited across a lake to her home.

    She took up the democracy struggle in 1988 and was thrust into a leadership role primarily because she was the daughter of martyred independence leader General Aung San.

    She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990, having been detained on national security charges and put under house arrest the previous year.

    She was released in 1995 but has spent much of the time since then in detention, either in jail or under house arrest.