The Burmese junta may have disappointed much of the West with what was widely dismissed as a sham election last weekend. But to the surprise of many, it has followed through on talk of releasing pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi from her years of house arrest.
Suu Kyi, who has been detained for 15 of the past 21 years, was released among what our correspondent described as 'exuberant scenes' with 'thousands of people streaming in once barricades were lifted.'
She has been released less than a week after the country's first elections in 20 years. She had previously been schedued to be released last year, but was told she had violated the terms of her detention after an American man swam across a lake to the house she was detained in.
World leaders have been quick to welcome her release, including US President Barack Obama, who described the release as 'long overdue' and added that Suu Kyi ia a hero of his.
According to a statement released from here in Yokohama, where he is attending the APEC summit, Obama said: '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.'