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Aung San Suu Kyi Released From Hospital, Put Under House Arrest - 2003-09-26

Burma's pro-democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has been sent home and reportedly placed under house arrest after being discharged from the hospital. The leader of the National League for Democracy party had spent nearly four months in detention at a secret location after a clash between NLD members and pro-government supporters.

Aung San Suu Kyi was taken Friday night to her lakeside home in Rangoon. The Burmese government issued a statement saying she will continue to rest at home under the supervision of her doctors and added that the government stands ready to assist her with medical and humanitarian needs.

The pro-democracy leader's physician earlier said she would be under house arrest while she recuperates from an operation last week for a gynecological condition.

Until her hospitalization, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi had been held at an undisclosed location in the Rangoon area following a clash in northern Burma on May 30. The Burmese government says she was in detention for her own safety after her supporters clashed with pro-government groups. But western governments and exiled dissidents say her convoy was the victim of an unprovoked attack that security forces did nothing to halt.

Since the incident most NLD offices have been closed and many senior party leaders detained. The NLD was severely repressed after it won elections in 1990 and was prevented by the military from assuming power. However, under confidence-building talks with government nearly one year ago the party was allowed to reopen some offices and Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi was released from house arrest for a time.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner's return home comes four days before a visit to Rangoon by United Nations special envoy Razali Ismail. Mr. Razali helped broker the confidence building talks.

Southeast Asian leaders are due to hold a summit in Indonesia in 10 days. They are expected to press Burma to accelerate political reforms.

Indonesia this week sent its foreign minister to Burma to seek Aung San Suu Kyi's release. He returned home saying that although he did not get any specific commitments, the Burmese government promised it would examine the issue.

Thailand also sent its foreign minister to Rangoon Thursday and he returned expressing optimism that there might be positive developments in the case.