Former First Lady Laura Bush speaks by phone with Suu Kyi

December 18th, 2010 - 2:07 am ICT by BNO News  

DALLAS (BNO NEWS) — Former U.S. First Lady Laura Bush on Friday spoke by telephone with pro-democracy leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, who was released from home arrest in Myanmar (Burma) last month.

It was the first time that Laura Bush spoke with Suu Kyi, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her non-violent struggle for democracy and human rights. She is sometimes compared with former South African leader Nelson Mandela as an international symbol of heroic and peaceful resistance in the face of oppression.

“I was heartened to hear the strong voice and enthusiasm of such an inspiring champion for human freedom,” Laura Bush said after the telephone call. “Daw Suu has been under house arrest off and on for the last 20 years, but she never lost hope or stopped believing in a free Burma.”

Laura Bush, whose husband served as U.S. President between January 2001 and January 2009, further said that she looked forward to the day when Suu Kyi and other people of her country can live in freedom.

In 1988, Suu Kyi returned to Myanmar after a period overseas but was quickly put under house arrest in Rangoon as the junta declared a martial law. Two years later, Myanmar held its first general election since 1960. The polls were by far won by Suu Kyi of the now dissolved National League for Democracy (NLD), but the results were ignored by the military junta and has since ruled the country.

Years later, in 1995, Suu Kyi was released from her house arrest in Rangoon although her movements remained restricted. She eventually was placed under house arrest again from September 2000 to May 2002 after she traveled to the city of Mandalay, in defiance of her travel restrictions.

Her release in May 2002 was unconditionally, but just a year later she was arrested after a clash between NLD supporters and a government-backed mob. After several months in prison, in September 2003, Suu Kyi was put under house arrest again.

Ever since, up until last month, she remained under house arrest but briefly appeared in public in September 2007 to greet protesting Buddhist monks. In May 2009, she was charged with breaking detention rules after an American swam to her compound and broke into her house even though he had not been invited by Suu Kyi.

After a trial that was widely condemned by the international community, Suu Kyi was convicted and sentenced in August 2009 to a further 18 months of house arrest. The term of this house arrest expired last month.

Days before Suu Kyi’s release last month, Myanmar held its first national elections in 20 years even though foreign journalists were barred from entering the country and thousands of opponents remain imprisoned. As was expected, the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party ‘won’ the election.

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