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Burma (Myanmar) release of Aung San Suu Kyi could galvanize activists

The military government of Burma (Myanmar) released Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi from seven years' detention. She is likely to remain under close watch.

Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi waves to supporters from her house in Rangoon after being released from seven years of house arrest by Burma's military junta on Saturday.

AP

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After days of eager anticipation, Aung San Suu Kyi was released Saturday having spent seven years under house arrest for defying Burma’s military rulers. She spoke briefly to a huge crowd of ecstatic supporters outside her lakeside villa in Rangoon, the former capital, who chanted her name and sang the national anthem.

One of the world’s most recognizable dissidents, Ms. Suu Kyi has long been a thorn in the side of Burma’s junta. Though President Obama and Western leaders immediately welcomed her release, most remain deeply skeptical of the regime’s intention and its repressive rule. British Prime Minister David Cameron said her release was “long overdue."

News photos showed the opposition leader smiling broadly as she stood at the gates to her house. She told her supporters that she would speak again Sunday at the headquarters of her defunct political party, then went back inside her house.

“There is a time to be quiet and a time to talk," she said, Reuters reported. "People must work in unison. Only then can we achieve our goal.”

The move comes less than a week after Burma held controversial elections to a new parliament that was won easily by a pro-junta party. Opposition leaders and independent monitors allege that the victory, while widely expected, was abetted by widespread vote-rigging.

Suu Kyi is likely to remain under close watch and could face curbs on her activities, though her lawyer has insisted that she wouldn’t accept any written restrictions. Whether she tries to test any limits set by the junta or takes a more cautious approach could have far-reaching repercussions on Burma’s political landscape.

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