BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in:  World: Asia-Pacific
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Tuesday, 7 May, 2002, 10:04 GMT 11:04 UK
Suu Kyi presses on for reform
Aung San Suu Kyi, front right, as she arrives at party headquarters
Supporters greeted Aung San Suu Kyi at her party HQ
Burma's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been spending her second day of freedom meeting party workers and diplomats.

But in a sign of the military government's wariness about change, Burma's official media gave little coverage to Aung San Suu Kyi's release and did not publish a government statement on political rights.

Aung San Suu Kyi met the ambassadors of Germany, France, Britain and Italy, and later with the US charge d'affaires.

It's a new dawn for the country

Aung San Suu Kyi

The European Union and the US have welcomed her release from nearly 20 months of house arrest.

But they have warned Burma's military rulers that further reforms are needed before trade embargos imposed in protest at the government's human rights record can be lifted.

Aung San Suu Kyi has been holding secret talks with the country's military rulers since she was put under house arrest.

The hope is that there will now be progress towards substantive negotiations on democratic reform.

There is a lot to do, the spokesman for her National League for Democracy party, U Lwin, told the BBC.

The NLD won 1990 elections by a landslide but the military junta refused to hand over power.

The US has given a cautious welcome to her release. President George Bush called it "very positive" and "a good development".

Aung San Suu Kyi smiles after her release
Aung San Suu Kyi's political life
  • 1988: Returns to Burma during political upheaval
  • 1990: Her party elected to power, result ignored by army
  • 1991: Awarded Nobel Peace Prize
  • 1995-2000: Release from house arrest
  • 2000: Begins secret talks with generals

      Click here for full profile

  • But US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Washington wanted to see concrete steps towards political reform and national reconciliation before any review of current sanctions against Burma would take place.

    "We'll be closely watching to see if Aung San Suu Kyi is afforded full freedom of movement and association," he said.

    Jubilant supporters

    The BBC's Larry Jagan, who was in Rangoon to witness Aung San Suu Kyi's release, says the opposition leader is convinced there are no restrictions on either her movement or her political activity.

    But he says the opposition will be cautious at first so as not to antagonise the military rulers or give them any reason to suspend the talks they started while Aung San Suu Kyi was confined.

    Aung San Suu Kyi was quick to rally her followers after her release on Monday.

    Thousands of cheering supporters mobbed her as she arrived at the headquarters of her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), after being driven from her lakeside villa in Rangoon.

    "It's a new dawn for the country... we only hope the dawn will move very quickly," the Nobel Peace Prize winner told jubilant supporters.

    She said the "confidence-building" stage was now over and that the dialogue process with the military was ready to move onto the next stage.

    "My release should not be looked at as a major breakthrough for democracy. For all people in Burma to enjoy basic freedom - that would be the major breakthrough," she said.

    She went on to meet the leaders of five ethnic political groups, including the Shan nationality's League for Democracy.

    According to opposition sources they joined members of the NLD central committee to discuss how the ethnic groups might be involved if and when substantive talks on political issues start.

    Aung San Suu Kyi also met European Union ambassadors and briefed them on her release.

    The BBC's Larry Jagan
    "The opposition leader is... enjoying her new freedom"
    Pro-democracy campaigner Ko Aung
    "I am really happy"
    See also:

    06 May 02 | Asia-Pacific
    World welcomes Suu Kyi release
    07 May 02 | Asia-Pacific
    Burma's long road ahead
    Internet links:

    The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

    Links to more Asia-Pacific stories are at the foot of the page.

    E-mail this story to a friend

    Links to more Asia-Pacific stories