Catholic aid agency CAFOD has warmly welcomed the release of the Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi who has been freed after nearly 20 months of house arrest. The Nobel prize winner who has been imprisoned for eight of the last 12 years described her release as a new dawn for her country.
Director of CAFOD, Julian Filochowski, said: "We are delighted with this news and are cautiously optimistic that it will prove a to be a breakthrough for democracy in Burma. What is more important is what it will mean for the people of Burma who have struggled so long for freedom. "It is a significant step on the road to national reconciliation and democracy. It has been a long and difficult dialogue but we see the release of Aung San Suu Kyi as a commitment to progress."
Aung San Suu Kyi and her party the National League for Democracy won a landslide victory in the Burmese elections 12 years ago but it has never been recognised by the military government. The daughter of the assassinated independence hero Aung San she was held under house arrest from 1989 to 1995. But her release in 1995 did not herald any political change and her movements remained restricted. She was again placed under house arrest in 2000. CAFOD works in Burma supporting development programmes. It has helped fund childcare and basic health projects, providing training programmes on HIV and AIDS.