President Barack Obama has welcomed the release of Burmese democracy leader and 1991 Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest calling it long overdue. However, Mr. Obama is calling on the Burmese military to release all political prisoners and says the political opposition in Burma continues to be deprived of legitimate political process that could bring change to the country.
In his statement released in Yokohama, Japan where he is attending the Asia-Pacific economic summit, the president called Aung San Suu Kyi a hero of his and a source of inspiration for all who work to advance basic human rights in Burma and around the world.
While Burma's military government had gone to extraordinary lengths to isolate and silence her, Mr. Obama said she has continued her brave fight for democracy, peace, and change in Burma.
The president says that whether living in the prison of her house, or the prison of her country, does not change the fact that she, and the political opposition she represents, has been systematically silenced, incarcerated, and deprived of any opportunity to engage in political processes that could change Burma.
Mr. Obama calls on Burma's military to release all political prisoners, and says the United States looks forward to the day when all of Burma's people are free from fear and persecution.
Word that the Burmese democracy leader was freed from house arrest came as President Barack Obama and other leaders at the APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation) summit were attending a cultural performance in Yokohama, Japan.
On three separate occasions during his Asia trip, all before the discredited national election held by Burma's military on November 7, President Obama talked specifically about Aung San Suu Kyi, calling for her release.
In Jakarta, the president called Burma one of the challenges ASEAN and the world would continue to face. Indonesia assumes the chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) next year.
The president also spoke out against Burma's military in a speech to a joint session of India's parliament.
U.S. officials have said that the United States will continue its policy of engaging Burma's military and make any changes necessary based on developments on the ground.
Aung San Suu Kyi's legal representative in the United States, Jared Genser, said her release would be "virtually meaningless" unless Burma's military enters into an irreversible process of dialogue resulting in national reconciliation with the National League for Democracy, ethnic groups and restores democracy and releases some 2,200 other political prisoners.
Timeline of Major Political Events in Burma