Suu Kyi is back under house arrest after hospital stay

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Aung San Suu Kyi was back under house arrest in her lakeside home in Rangoon yesterday after four months' detention in a secret location by the ruling military junta.

Reports from Burma said that the 58-year-old pro-democracy leader went home last night after a week in a Rangoon hospital where she had a major three-hour operation. "She asked specifically that nobody should want to see her leave the hospital," said Dr Tin Myo Win. "Anybody who wishes to see her once she is home can make arrangements through the authorities."

He said that Ms Suu Kyi - known to most in Burma as "The Lady" - had negotiated her return to the house, where she has been confined for more than seven of the past 14 years.

Her release from hospital came four days before a United Nations envoy, Razali Ismail, was due to arrive in Burma for his 11th visit to press for a reconciliation between the military government and Ms Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy, which won the 1990 election but has always been blocked by the generals from taking power.

Her latest imprisonment began on 30 May when she and scores of her supporters were detained after an attack by a government-backed mob on her convoy near Mandalay.

The UN plea comes after a visit this week by emissaries from Indonesia and Thailand. Indonesia said that it wanted an end to Ms Suu Kyi's detention before a meeting of the Association of South East Asian Nations in Bali in October. Speculation abounds in Burma - called Myanmar by its government - that Ms Suu Kyi's medical operation provided a face-saving way for the junta to send her home, in response to intense international pressure.

Doctors in Burma have said that the operation was for gynaecological problems - an explanation which has not been disputed by supporters of Ms Suu Kyi.

Yesterday, her supporters were calling for further international pressure on Burma's military rulers. They expressed concern that the international community might use Ms Suu Kyi's return home as an excuse to avoid taking action against the regime.

Yvette Mahon, director of the Burma Campaign UK, said: "We are relieved that Aung San Suu Kyi is recovering well after surgery." But she warned that this was not the time to relax pressure on the regime.

She said: "Aung San Suu Kyi's return to house arrest does not represent progress, we are back where we were in 1989. Burma is still ruled by a military dictatorship, the people of Burma still live in fear, and there has not been a single political reform in 14 years.

"People assume that there are sanctions against the regime and that they have not worked. In fact, only the US has imposed effective economic sanctions.

"The European Union only has a visa ban and a freeze on assets as Germany is blocking EU sanctions. There is not even a UN arms embargo against Burma."