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Free at last


The southeastern Asian country of Myanmar, also known as Burma, is currently in a state of flux after the release of Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest.

"It's a new dawn for the country... we only hope the dawn will move very quickly," said the opposition leader who has been under house arrest for the past 19 months as reported in Canadian Press .

Myanmar has been under military rule for the past four decades but in 1990 Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party won a landslide victory in the country's general elections.

The military junta refused to hand over power.

Since that time, Aung San Suu Kyi has spent many years as a prisoner in her own home.

She was held under house arrest from 1989 to 1995.

She was again detained in September 2000 after a series of failed attempts to visit party members outside the capital city of Yangon, also known as Rangoon.

In recent months Whistler writer Janet Love Morrison has written three feature articles for Pique NewsMagazine about her travels to Burma.

In her second article, Following the path of Aung San Suu Kyi on March 8, Morrison talked to United Nations envoy Tan Sri Razali Ismail on her flight to Myanmar.

"If I didn't think there was hope I wouldn't be here," he said at the time.

Ismail began brokering reconciliation talks in October 2000.

He was in Myanmar last month, his seventh visit there, to push for reconciliation between the military junta and the imprisoned opposition leader.

The release of Aung San Suu Kyi has been hailed internationally as a major step.

Over the past decade the West has put severe economic sanctions on Myanmar, trying to force political change. One of their main demands was the release of Aung San Suu Kyi.

The impoverished Asian country, bordering the Bay of Bengal in between Thailand and Bangladesh, has been suffering under the sanctions.

Since 1995, over 50 multi-national corporations have cut their ties with the country.

As she made her way out of her house on Monday, crowds of workers chanted "Long Live Aung San Suu Kyi."

The 56-year-old won the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize for her democracy struggle.

With her new freedom, Aung San Suu Kyi plans to travel around her country, gathering support for her party.