News / USA

Burma's Freed Democracy Leader: Prepared to Work with All Pro-Democracy Groups

Long-detained democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi addresses thousands of supporters in Rangoon

Burma's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, flanked by her party officials, talks to the supporters as she stands at the gate of her home in Rangoon, 13 Nov 2010
Burma's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, flanked by her party officials, talks to the supporters as she stands at the gate of her home in Rangoon, 13 Nov 2010
Daniel Schearf

Burma's democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, now freed from house arrest, has addressed thousands of supporters for the first time in years, saying she is willing to work with all pro-democracy groups.

Aung San Suu Kyi addressed a throng of supporters Sunday at her National League for Democracy headquarters in Rangoon.

She says she has not yet spoken with all the NLD leaders because she was just released. But, speaking for herself, she says she is willing to work with anybody favoring democracy in Burma.

The 65-year-old democracy leader says since she was just released, she will first listen to the public and then the NLD leaders will decide their next move.

Burma's military government freed the Nobel Peace Prize winner from house arrest Saturday evening after keeping her locked up for seven consecutive years.

Leaders and rights groups across the world welcomed her release but also condemned her years in confinement and called for the release of all political prisoners.

Earlier Sunday at Burma's embassy in Bangkok, a small group of demonstrators, the Free Burma Coalition, called for democracy in Burma.

The demonstrators presented a bouquet of flowers to the embassy to thank the government for releasing Aung San Suu Kyi, but added they would have thanked the devil himself.

Andrea Timillero read a statement on behalf of the group calling her incarceration criminal and inhumane, but also holding out some hope that it could be a sign of change.

Timillero said, "Who knows, perhaps the regime really has turned a corner, albeit extremely unlikely though that is. Should that really be the case, the regime must now turn its attention to the two thousand two hundred political prisoners and free them forthwith."

Aung San Suu Kyi's release came just days after Burma's military government held controversial elections it said would restore civilian rule.

Democracy advocates and leaders across the world condemned the elections as designed to cement military power in the guise of democracy.

Aung San Suu Kyi was barred from the elections and, for that reason and other unfair rules, the NLD boycotted the polls.

The government disbanded the NLD for the boycott, which now operates as a social charity.

A military-backed party claimed victory in the elections. Opposition parties who contested the elections say voter fraud and intimidation were common.

The government says the military must retain a significant role in Burma to keep ethnic minority militias from splitting the country.

Aung San Suu Kyi says she will investigate the allegations, but it is not clear if the government would try to stop her.

The NLD won Burma's last elections in 1990 but the military ignored the results and has kept her locked up, on and off, for most of the time since.

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