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Mrs. Suu Kyi met with NLD leaders soon after her release and according to sources is expected to criticize the elections as a sham when she speaks to supporters on Sunday.

“The Secretary-General expects that no further restrictions will be placed on her, and he urges the [Burmese] authorities to build on today’s action by releasing all remaining political prisoners,” Mr. Ban’s spokesman said.

Mrs. Suu Kyi has been in prison or under house arrest for 15 of the past 20 years. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991.

After her husband, Michael Aris, died in Britain in 1999, Mrs. Suu Kyi declined an offer from the junta to travel to Britain for his funeral, fearing she would not be allowed back if she left.

She was initially freed in 1995, but was not allowed to travel outside Rangoon.

The latest series of detentions began in May 2003. On Aug. 11, 2009, three months after she was due to be freed from her house arrest of six years, she was sentenced to 18 additional months of house arrest. Justifying the detention, the junta said Mrs. Suu Kyi had violated the terms of her house arrest when American John Yettaw swam to her property uninvited.

Jared Genser, Mrs. Suu Kyi’s international counsel and president of Freedom Now, said her release “alone is virtually meaningless until the junta enters into an irreversible process of dialogue resulting in national reconciliation between the junta, the National League for Democracy, and ethnic groups and a restoration of democracy to Burma.”

“For anyone who might mistakenly view this release as a sign of change, the international community should recall that Ms. Suu Kyi was released from house arrest three times previously — in the mid-1990s and early 2000s — and nothing fundamentally changed in the
country,” Mr. Genser said.

Aung Din, executive director of the U.S. Campaign for Burma, said with Mrs. Suu Kyi’s release her safety and possible re-arrest become major concerns.

Aung Din, who participated in the 1988 popular democracy uprising in Burma and currently lives in Washington, said he had been informed by various sources in Burma that the military has recruited criminals with a plan to attack Mrs. Suu Kyi if she continues to challenge the regime and its implementation of the results of the Nov. 7 elections. The international community had criticized that vote as a sham.

Mrs. Suu Kyi previously survived an assassination attempt by the regime’s militias on May 30, 2003, near Depayin Township in Middle Burma. Scores of her party members were killed in that attack.

Mrs. Suu Kyi’s release was also greeted with guarded optimism from congressional leaders on both sides of the political aisle.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky welcomed the development as the first positive news to come out of Burma in some time.

“That said, she has been released in the past only to be later detained on trumped-up charges. Whether the regime will tolerate her active participation in public discourse in Burma is the key question. Even if it turns out she is given freedom of movement and speech, her release should be viewed as a first step in Burmese reform and not the last,” Mr. McConnell said.

Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, said the joy of Mrs. Suu Kyi’s release is “tempered by the continuing hardships confronting the people for whom she has sacrificed so much.”

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