She is a Burmese opposition politician and the General Secretary of the National League for Democracy. In 1990, the military junta called a general election, in which the National League for Democracy (NLD) received 59% of the votes, guaranteeing NLD 80% of the parliament seats. Some claim that Aung San Suu Kyi would have assumed the office of Prime Minister; in fact, however, she did not stand as a candidate in the elections. Instead, the results were nullified, and the military refused to hand over power. This resulted in an international outcry. She had been detained under house arrest before the elections. She remained under house arrest in Burma for almost 15 of the 21 years from 20 July 1989 until her release on 13 November 2010.
Aung San Suu Kyi has been placed under house arrest on numerous occasions since she began her political career, totalling 15 of the past 21 years. During these periods, she had been prevented from meeting her party supporters and international visitors. In an interview, Suu Kyi said that while under house arrest she spent her time reading philosophy, politics and biographies that her husband had sent her. She would also occupy her time by playing the piano and was occasionally allowed visits from foreign diplomats as well as her personal doctor.
The media have also been prevented from visiting. In 1998, journalist Maurizio Giuliano, after photographing her, was stopped by customs officials, and all his films, tapes and some notes were confiscated. Suu Kyi met the leader of Burma, General Than Shwe, accompanied by General Khin Nyunt on 20 September 1994, while under house arrest. It was the first meeting since she had been placed in detention. On several occasions during Suu Kyi's house arrest, she has had periods of poor health and as a result has been hospitalized.
On 9 November 1996, the motorcade that she was traveling in with other National League for Democracy leaders Tin Oo and U Kyi Maung, was attacked in Rangoon.
About 200 men swooped on the motorcade, wielding metal chains, metal batons, stones and other weapons. The car that Aung San Suu Kyi was in had its rear window smashed, and the car with Tin Oo and U Kyi Maung had its rear window and two backdoor windows shattered. It is believed the offenders were members of the Union Solidarity Development Association (USDA) who were allegedly paid 500 kyats (USD $5) each to participate. The NLD lodged an official complaint with the police, and according to reports the government launched an investigation, but no action was taken. (Amnesty International 120297)
Suu Kyi continued to be imprisoned under the 1975 State Protection Act (Article 10 b), which grants the government the power to imprison people for up to five years without a trial, and the Law to Safeguard the State Against the Dangers of Those Desiring to Cause Subversive Acts (Article 10 a), as Suu Kyi is "likely to undermine the community peace and stability" of the country. She has appealed against her detention. Many nations and figures have continued to call for her release and that of 2,100 other political prisoners in the country. On 12 November 2010, days after the junta-backed party – Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) – won the elections which were conducted after a gap of almost 20 years, the junta finally agreed to sign orders allowing Suu Kyi's release. Her house arrest term came to an end on 13 November 2010.
Periods under detention
- 20 July 1989: Placed under house arrest in Rangoon under martial law that allows for detention without charge or trial for three years.
- 10 July 1995: Released from house arrest.
- 23 September 2000: Placed under house arrest.
- 6 May 2002: Released after 19 months.
- 30 May 2003: Arrested following the Depayin massacre, she was held in secret detention for more than three months before being returned to house arrest.
- 25 May 2007: House arrest extended by one year despite a direct appeal from U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to General Than Shwe.
- 24 October 2007: Reached 12 years under house arrest, solidarity protests held at 12 cities around the world.
- 27 May 2008: House arrest extended for another year, which is illegal under both international law and Burma's own law.
- 11 August 2009: House arrest extended for 18 more months because of "violation" arising from the May 2009 trespass incident.
- 13 November 2010: Released from house arrest.
Aung San Suu Kyi still believes in the ideals of Democracy and believes that her country will live the dream of a free political system, until then she still fights everyday for the release of the over 2,100 other political prisoners who have yet to be released.
Suu Kyi has bravely called on the military regime to free the thousands of monks and peaceful activists still held in horrific prisons, some in cramped dog cages. Unprecedentedly, thousands of Burmese have risked their own safety to join her call for freedom through an online petition:
To World Leaders and the Burmese Regime:
We stand with the people of Burma in their desire for peace and national reconciliation. We urge world leaders to call on the Burmese regime to immediately and unconditionally release all political prisoners and implement an immediate ceasefire between the Burmese Army and armed ethnic groups. We demand the Burmese regime heed that call.
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