Myanmar’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi leaves her National League for Democracy’s headquarters after meeting with ethnic leaders of her party in Yangon on Nov 16.

YANGON – Christians in Myanmar and across the world have welcomed the release of Myanmar’s pro-democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, as a sign of hope for the country.

Suu Kyi, 65, was freed at 5.15 pm on Nov 13 after being detained for 15 of the past 21 years.

A Church person from Mandalay told that he was happy about the release as she is the only leader able to bring “change” to the country.

A priest from Mandalay said the Nobel Peace Prize winner is an icon of democracy and the international community took a greater interest in the country because of her.

“I prayed for her in the morning Mass on Nov 13 for her release,” the Mandalay priest added.

Father Babu Joseph, spokesperson of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, said Suu Kyi’s release was the right signal for Myanmar to open up for democracy.

“The kind of support she has from the public, the softening of the stand of the junta and the international pressure for her release will certainly open a door to democracy,” he added.

John Dayal, secretary general of the ecumenical All India Christian Council, said Suu Kyi’s release would give an opportunity to the world leaders to rein in the military junta.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s release was welcomed by the UK-based rights group Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), a consistent critic of the Myanmar regime.

But it added that it continued to call for the unconditional release of an estimated 2,100 political prisoners still held and an end to offensives against civilians in ethnic states.

“We have campaigned for Aung San Suu Kyi for many years so we welcome her release,” said Benedict Rogers, CSW’s East

Asia team leader. “But her release alone is no measure of progress.”

He said the regime “should seize the moment” of her release to begin a dialogue with her “leading to a transition to true democracy and national reconciliation”. He added: “Her release after 15 years of house arrest is very welcome, but there is still a very long way to go.” 


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