According to the Burmese law under which she is being held, democracy leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi is scheduled for release from house arrest on November 13, 2010. Burma's military rulers have repeatedly imprisoned Suu Kyi, the daughter of Burma's leading independence figure, General Aung San, for her charismatic promotion of democracy and human rights in Burma and her leadership of the opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), which won an election landslide in 1990 but was never permitted to assume power.
As the following chronology shows, Suu Kyi has been under house arrest for 15 of the past 21 years. She was first arrested by Burma's military government in 1989 and held under house arrest until 1995. She was placed under house arrest a second time in 200o and released in 2002. The military junta, the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), detained her for a third time in 2003 after an attack on her convoy while traveling in the country. Her house arrest order was extended by another year in May 2008, and it was expected to be unlawfully extended again in May 2009.
The military government however used the bizarre incident of an American man swimming to her house in May 2009 as an excuse to put her on trial-for the first time ever during her periods of detention-and extend her house arrest for another 18 months. Political trials in Burma, conducted by judges that are not independent, do not meet international fair trial standards.
The November 7, 2010 elections in Burma, the first in 20 years, were held just a week prior to her legally sanctioned release date. These elections were intended to ensure continued military rule, but with a civilian facade. Suu Kyi's party, the NLD, is now illegal as it did not register for the elections along with 37 other parties, due to draconian electoral laws that barred parties from having people serving prison terms as members.
July 20, 1989
Aung San Suu Kyi, the general secretary of the opposition NLD is detained under the State Protection Act and placed under house arrest at her mother's home at 54 University Avenue, Rangoon.
May 27, 1990
Despite her continuing detention, the NLD wins a landslide victory in the general elections by securing 82 percent of the seats; the military junta refuses to recognize the results of the election.
July 10, 1995
Aung San Suu Kyi is released after six years of house arrest.
October 10, 1995
The NLD defies the military government's ban on changes in party leadership positions and reappoints her as the party's general secretary.
November 9, 1996
An NLD motorcade with Aung San Suu Kyi and NLD leader U Tin Oo is attacked in Rangoon by a mob of nearly 200 men, believed to be members of the pro-military Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA), who smash the car windows with iron bars and throw stones at the car in full view of the security forces who did not stop the attack.
September 23, 2000
Aung San Suu Kyi is again placed under house arrest, even though her activities have been sharply restricted since early 1997.
May 6, 2002
Aung San Suu Kyi is released from house arrest, and addresses hundreds of cheering supporters who gather at her house. A government spokesman says: "Today marks a new page for the people of Myanmar [Burma] and the international community. We shall recommit ourselves to allowing all of our citizens to participate freely in the life of our political process, while giving priority to national unity, peace and stability of the country as well as the region."
Often accompanied by government officials, Suu Kyi begins to view infrastructure development projects and visit supporters around Burma, often drawing crowds of thousands of people as she visits Arakan State, Chin State, Kachin State, and other regions.
May 30, 2003
A pro-government mob attacks Aung San Suu Kyi's NLD convoy near the town of Depayin. At least four NLD bodyguards are killed by the mob, but eyewitnesses contend that dozens more were killed. Suu Kyi is detained at Insein Prison in Rangoon. The UN secretary-general's special envoy to Burma, Razali Ismael, visits her in prison, which he did not make public until 2006. Suu Kyi is transferred to her house months after the Depayin attack.
May 25, 2007
The military junta extends Aung San Suu Kyi's term of house arrest for another year.
September 22, 2007
Hundreds of Buddhist monks and their lay supporters march down University Avenue to Aung San Suu Kyi's house. They line up outside the gate and chant the metta sutta (loving kindness) as Suu Kyi stands by her gate to receive these blessings. The monks march off without incident, leading ever larger marches in Rangoon until the government violently cracks down on their protests on September 26.
May 10-24, 2008
Following the devastation of Cyclone Nargis, the military government holds a constitutional referendum, which it announces is passed by a 92 percent approval from a 98 percent voter turnout. One clause in the new constitution bars people serving prison terms from voting in elections, and the provisions for presidential candidates provide that the president "shall he himself [sic], one of the parents, the spouse, one of the legitimate children or their spouses not owe allegiance to a foreign power, not be subject of a foreign power or citizen of a foreign country. They shall not be persons entitled to enjoy the rights and privileges of a subject of a foreign government or citizen of a foreign country." Aung San Suu Kyi's two sons with her late husband Michael Aris are both citizens of the United Kingdom.
May 28, 2008
Aung San Suu Kyi's detention order under the 1975 State Protection Act, "the restriction order against her fundamental rights," is extended until May 27, 2009.
August 29, 2008
The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issues an opinion that states: "The latest renewal of the order to place Ms. Suu Kyi under house arrest not solely violates international law but also national domestic laws of Myanmar, since the situation does not meet the terms of the 1975 State Protection Law, and since this Law only allows for annually renewable house arrest orders with the maximum time limit of five years in total. This five year period ended at the end of May 2008."
November 30, 2008
John William Yettaw, a 53-year-old American from Falcon, Missouri, goes to the home of Aung San Suu Kyi. He asks to meet her, but is told by her household staff she does not wish to meet him, and he is asked to leave. Suu Kyi informs the authorities the following day that an intruder came to the house.
May 6, 2009
Burmese police arrest American John Yettaw at approximately 5:30 a.m., 30 yards from shore on the north-western edge of Inya Lake: nearly two kilometers from Aung San Suu Kyi's house. He allegedly swam across the lake to visit Suu Kyi and despite being told to leave immediately, he begged to stay because of exhaustion and spent the night at her home.
May 14, 2009
At approximately 8 a.m., Aung San Suu Kyi and her home assistants, Khin Khin Win and Win Ma Ma, are arrested by Special Branch police and transferred to a special court in Insein Prison, appearing before the Rangoon North district court. They, along with John Yettaw, are slated to be tried for violating the terms of her house arrest at Rangoon North District Court on May 18. Yettaw is further charged with breaches of the Immigration Act, and under the Rangoon City Development Committee Law and the Water Supply and Sanitation Rules, which ban swimming in Inya Lake.
May 18, 2009
The trials of Aung San Suu Kyi, Khin Khin Win, Win Ma Ma, and John Yettaw begin in Rangoon North District Court. Suu Kyi's trial lasts from May 18 to July 31, with frequent delays. The court permitted 14 witnesses for the prosecution, but only two for the defense, despite several appeals by Suu Kyi's lawyers to present additional witnesses. The trial was closed to the public, with foreign diplomats and the media only permitted to observe the trial on a few occasions. The prosecution alleged that Suu Kyi was jointly responsible with the authorities, who place guards around her home, for the breach of security on her residence, and, therefore, the intrusion violated the terms of her house arrest.
August 10, 2009
The head of the military junta, President Senior General Than Shwe, issues a directive to the Minister of Home Affairs that whatever the verdict of the court, Suu Kyi's sentence will be halved and is to be served back under house arrest.
August 11, 2009
The court convicts Aung San Suu Kyi and sentences her to three years hard labor ("rigorous imprisonment"). Her two assistants are sentenced under the same charges, and John Yettaw is sentenced to three years under intrusion charges, and three years for immigration violations. Almost immediately, Home Affairs Minister Gen. Maung Oo reads out a letter from Sen. Gen. Than Shwe declaring the sentences of Suu Kyi and her staff would be commuted to 18 months of house arrest.
August 15, 2009
Visiting US Senator Jim Webb meets with Aung San Suu Kyi at a government guest house after he visits senior government officials in the capital, Naypyidaw, including Sen. Gen. Than Shwe and others. The government orders the release of John Yettaw after the reduction of his sentence and the suspension of further charges and for him "to be deported on humanitarian grounds and as a gesture of taking head of relations between the US and Myanmar." Yettaw is flown to Bangkok on August 16 on Webb's plane and repatriated to the US.
December 4, 2009
The Supreme Court agrees to consider an appeal of Aung San Suu Kyi's house arrest order. Her lawyer, Nyan Win, says: "It's a very routine matter. It's neither positive nor negative."
December 21, 2009
After Aung San Suu Kyi's lawyers present initial arguments, the Supreme Court announces it will hear the full appeal to Suu Kyi's house arrest order.
January 18, 2010
The Supreme Court hears final arguments by Suu Kyi's lawyers in the appeal of her extended house arrest. The court announces it will issue a final verdict on the appeal within the next few weeks.
February 26, 2010
Suu Kyi's lawyer U Nyan Win says: "She is under detention by order of Gen. Than Shwe. He can release her any time."
March 8, 2010
The government issues the political party registration law which states that political parties cannot legally be registered with the Electoral Commission with any members "who are convicts." Under the law, if the NLD had wished to re-register ahead of the planned 2010 elections, it would have had to expel Aung San Suu Kyi and an estimated 430 members of the party currently in prison.
March 22, 2010
NLD Chairman U Aung Shwe calls on Sen. Gen. Than Shwe to permit a meeting of the party's 100-member executive committee, which includes Aung San Suu Kyi.
October 29, 2010
The Supreme Court announces it will decide "soon" on Aung San Suu Kyi's appeal against the 18-month extension of her house arrest order, which is set to expire on November 13, 2010.
November 7, 2010
The SPDC conducts multiparty elections amid an environment of widespread restrictions on basic freedoms, a legal framework designed to favor the military party.
November 11, 2010
The Special Appellate Bench in Naypyidaw rejects Suu Kyi's third and final appeal in a notice posted outside the court.
November 13, 2010
Aung San Suu Kyi is released from house arrest.