The Myanmar Police Force [official website] on Saturday released pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], ending her almost eight years under house arrest. Police left the area and a barbed-wire fence near her home was removed, allowing Suu Kyi to address supporters [AP report] that had gathered. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hailed [press release] Suu Kyi's release from "unjustified detention," while UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official website] offered similar praise and encouraged the country to release all political prisoners [press release]. Both statements stressed the importance of ensuring that her release is unconditional, and her lawyers have indicated that any attempts to impose conditions are unacceptable. Suu Kyi's release comes days after the Myanmar Supreme Court rejected an appeal [JURIST report] challenging the conditions of her house arrest. Though the challenge was originally scheduled to be heard in October, the court waited until after Sunday's controversial elections [JURIST report] to issue its ruling. The elections were the first held in the country in 20 years, and have received heavy international criticism. It is anticipated that Suu Kyi will assist in a challenge [AP report] against the election results in which the ruling party maintained its hold on power.
Suu Kyi was prohibited from participating in the election under current Myanmar election laws [JURIST report]. In October, Suu Kyi filed an appeal [JURIST report] to the Supreme Court challenging the dissolution of the National League for Democracy (NLD) [party website]. In June, an independent UN human rights expert called for the release [JURIST report] of Suu Kyi and other political prisoners in Myanmar, claiming their continued detention "contravenes international human rights law and casts a long shadow over planned elections in the country." Suu Kyi originally challenged the election law [JURIST report] dissolving the NLD in April, but her suit was rejected. In March, the NLD announced that it would not take part in the elections after the court rejected [JURIST reports] a lawsuit brought by the NLD to repeal the election laws preventing Suu Kyi from participating.