On This Day

The Day Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was Freed From House Arrest for the First Time

By The Irrawaddy 10 July 2021

On this day in 1995, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was released by the military regime after spending six years under house arrest.

The democracy champion was 44 when she was arrested for the first time in July 1989 under the State Protection Law, by the then junta which described itself as the State Law and Order Restoration Council.

Despite her detention, the NLD had won a landslide victory in the 1990 general election, the first multi-party election since 1960, which was followed two years later by the first coup in Myanmar’s history, led by military chief General Ne Win.

In 1990, the regime refused to recognize the election results and forced the NLD leadership ‘to expel Daw Aung San Suu Kyi or the party will be disbanded.’ In December 1991, the NLD expelled Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

NLD chairman U Aung Shwe and central executive committee secretary U Lwin handed the party back to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi on the day she was released.

Prior to being freed, she met with military leaders twice in 1994, including Senior General Than Shwe, Vice Senior General Maung Aye and Military Intelligence [now Office of Chief of Military Security Affairs] chief General Khin Nyunt. But neither side disclosed details of the meetings.

As the NLD’s general secretary, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi continued to lead Myanmar’s democracy struggle. She was placed under house arrest again from 2001 to 2002, and then from 2003 to 2010 under the regime led by Sen. Gen. Than Shwe.

She was released from her third stint of house arrest in November 2010. The NLD boycotted the 2010 general elections held under the military-drafted 2008 Constitution. But it did contest the 2012 by-elections and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was elected as a lawmaker in Myanmar’s Lower House.

After winning a big majority in the 2015 general election, the NLD was able to form a government for the first time, 25 years after the party had won the 1990 general election.

However, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is barred by the 2008 Constitution from becoming the country’s president due to her two sons holding foreign citizenship. Instead, she used the title State Counselor while leading the country for the next five years.

The NLD recorded an even bigger win in the 2020 general election, but military chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, who succeeded Senior General Than Shwe, staged a coup in February, claiming that the voting was marred by fraud. However, local and international election observers accepted the poll as being generally free and fair.

A few hours after the coup, the 75-year-old Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was again detained by the military for the fourth time. She turned 76 in June while in military custody. The new, junta-appointed Union Election Commission is planning to disband the NLD.

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