Last updated at 15:57 GMT, Monday, 25 January 2010

Burma may release Aung San Suu Kyi

Summary

25 January 2010

Reports from Burma suggest the military government may be planning to release the pro-democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, later this year. Sources report a Burmese official said that Ms Suu Kyi would be freed in November.

Reporter:
Rachel Harvey

Aung San Suu Kyi

Aung San Suu Kyi in 2009

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Report

Burmese officials have hinted many times that Aung San Suu Kyi may be released. But it's the first time in recent months that a putative date has been attached to the idea.

The comments are reported to have been made by a senior minister at a provincial town meeting four days ago. It's a measure of how tightly information is controlled in Burma that it's taken this long for the reports to filter out.

Aung San Suu Kyi's own lawyer told the BBC he'd heard the rumour but could not confirm it. And if indeed she is released in November, key questions about the terms of Aung San Suu Kyi's possible freedom remain. Would there be conditions attached? Would her activities be restricted? And, crucially, would her release come before or after planned elections?

There is also the matter of the legal appeal against Aung San Suu Kyi's current detention. The Supreme Court is due to deliver its verdict in the next couple of weeks. But if the military government says she'll continue to be detained until at least November, the court's decision has been somewhat undermined.

Rachel Harvey, BBC Southeast Asia correspondent, Bangkok

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Vocabulary

hinted

suggested that something might happen without saying definitely that it would

a putative date

a date which is believed to be correct

to filter out

to become public knowledge

the rumour

the suggestion, without proof, that something might be true

confirm

say something is true

key

very important

crucially

very importantly

detention

situation of not being free

is due to deliver its verdict

is about to make its decision known

undermined

made to have little importance

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