President Obama praised the release of Aung San Suu Kyi on Saturday, a pro-democracy leader in the country of Burma, also known as Myanmar, who has been in prison or house arrest for 15 of the last 21 years.
"Whether Aung San Suu Kyi is living in the prison of her house, or the prison of her country, does not change the fact that she, and the political opposition she represents, has been systematically silenced, incarcerated, and deprived of any opportunity to engage in political processes that could change Burma," Obama said in a written statement released by the White House.
"While the Burmese regime has gone to extraordinary lengths to isolate and silence Aung San Suu Kyi, she has continued her brave fight for democracy, peace, and change in Burma. She is a hero of mine and a source of inspiration for all who work to advance basic human rights in Burma and around the world. The United States welcomes her long overdue release."
Obama is currently in Yokohama, Japan for the APEC summit, wrapping up his 10 day visit to India and Asia. Earlier in the week, in both India and Indonesia, Obama addressed the recent elections in Burma and his hopes the country would work towards a democracy rather than continue a government under the ruling junta.
"That is why we condemned elections in Burma that were neither free nor fair. That is why we are supporting your vibrant civil society in working with counterparts across this region. Because there is no reason why respect for human rights should stop at the border of any country," Obama said Wednesday in Jakarta in a speech at the University of Indonesia.
Aung San Suu Kyi lost an appeal for release as recently as Thursday but Burma watchers thought the denial for an early release was a prelude to allowing the full release of Suu Kyi, with signs pointing to her official release when her son, who has been denied a visa in the past, was allowed into the country.
"The United States looks forward to the day when all of Burma's people are free from fear and persecution. Following Aung San Suu Kyi's powerful example, we recommit ourselves to remaining steadfast advocates of freedom and human rights for the Burmese people, and accountability for those who continue to oppress them," Obama's statement concluded.