YANGON, Myanmar - Aung San Suu Kyi a Burmese opposition politician and a former General Secretary of the National League for Democracy (NLD) was released from house arrest today after spending 15 of the last 21 years arrested in her home.

Aung San Suu Kyi returned to Burma in 1988. In the same year, leader of the Socialist ruling party, General Ne Win, stepped down, leading to mass demonstrations for democracy on 8 August 1988 (8-8-88), which were violently suppressed in what came to be known as the 8888 Uprising.

On 26 August 1988, she addressed about half a million people at a mass rally in front of the Shwedagon Pagoda in the capital, calling for a democratic government. However, in September, a new military junta took power. Later the same month, the National League for Democracy was formed, with Suu Kyi as general secretary.(Wikipedia)

She was placed under house arrest on 20 July 1989 at her lakeside home in the capital Rangoon, and was offered freedom if she left the country, but she refused.

In the 1990 general election, Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party won 59% of the national votes and 80% (392 of 492) of the seats in Parliament, leading some to claim that this implies Suu Kyi was elected Prime Minister. The ruling generals, however, refused to relinquish power.

During the Period of House Arrest

A host of world diplomats have visited Ms Suu Kyi at her home, including former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright.

She remained active in politics and after her 1995 release was re-appointed general secretary of the NLD, but faced strict travel conditions.

She was jailed again in 2000 and in December of that year. She was decorated with America's highest civilian honour, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Her son, Alexander Aris, collected the award on behalf from then US president Bill Clinton.

The UN stepped in to help negotiate her release in 2002.

Why is Aung San Suu Kyi being released at this time?

Her freedom did not last long after being released in 2002. In 2003 she was arrested and placed under house arrest again. Today, her release was granted on the day her seven-year house arrest term was due to expire.

Periods Under House Arrest

20 July 1989: Placed under house arrest in Rangoon under martial law that allows for detention without charge or trial for three years.

10 July 1995: Released from house arrest. was able to lay flowers at the tomb of her father, who was assassinated when she was two years old

23 September 2000: Placed under house arrest.

6 May 2002: Released after 19 months.

30 May 2003: Arrested following the Depayin massacre, she was held in secret detention for more than three months before being returned to house arrest.

25 May 2007: House arrest extended by one year despite a direct appeal from U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to General Than Shwe.

24 October 2007: Reached 12 years under house arrest, solidarity protests held at 12 cities around the world.

27 May 2008: House arrest extended for another year, which is illegal under both international law and Burma's own law.

11 August 2009: House arrest extended for 18 more months because of "violation" arising from the May 2009 trespass incident.

Who is Aung San Suu Kyi?

Her father, Aung San, founded the modern Burmese army and negotiated Burma's independence from the United Kingdom in 1947; he was assassinated by his rivals in the same year.

The daughter of Burma's independence hero, General Aung San, Aung San Suu Kyi joined the fight for democracy in late 1988.