Aung San Suu Kyi (aung sahn soo chee)

Courageous and dignified woman leader of the nonviolent movement for human rights and democracy in Burma.

Native to Burma (born in Rangoon, July 19, 1947), Suu Kyi was educated at Oxford. In the years following completion of her BA, Suu Kyi served as Assistant Secretary, Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions of United Nations, as a Visiting Scholar at Kyoto University, and a Fellow at the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Simla.

In 1988 Suu Kyi returned to Burma to care for her ailing mother. (Her father, General Aung San, a national hero in the Burmese struggle for independence, had been assassinated in 1947.)

That same year student protests against the Burmese Government (military dictatorship) began in Rangoon, and spread through the country. The Government response (military crackdown) included open fire on peaceful demonstrators. The civilian death toll at one demonstration outnumbered the deaths that occurred in the Tiananmen Square demonstration (one year later).

Shortly thereafter, Aung San Suu Kyi spoke out, calling upon the Government to cease using arms against peaceful unarmed demonstrators. She proposed the establishment of a People's Consultative Committee to help resolve the crisis. She was not a public figure at this time. Her dignity, love, and courageous eloquence soon made her one. When Burma's National League for Democracy (NLD) was formed in September, 1988, she was made the General Secretary.

Since 1988, Aung San Suu Kyi has worked continuously towards bringing democracy to Burma. Her ability to rouse and unite the Burmese people greatly threatens the Burmese Dictatorship. In attempt to silence her, she has been met by troops in the street with rifles drawn and orders to shoot. She has faced them down, literally, with her calm, peaceful visage. She continues to speak, write, and encourage, in spite of house arrest (and effective isolation from the outside world, 1989 - 1995), harassment, and threat of death. Crowds continue to seek her out in spite of the risk. She has refused political asylum, preferring to stay in Burma with her family to continue to work for a democratic Burma.

August 21, 2000 Aung San Suu Kyi, with members of the Burmese National League for Democracy (NLD), attempted for the first time in two years to travel outside of Rangoon. Their destination was to be Kungyangon, to do NLD organizing in that community. Military force has once again used to prevent her from continuing her journey. She is currently stranded, two trucks blocking her vehicle (attempts to leave Rangoon in 1998 were similarly blocked). She refuses to turn back.

References:
- www.dassk.com
- college.antioch.edu/~iabrams/nobelprizeannual.1991.html
- Yahoo News
- Beyond Rangoon, film, starring Patricia Arquette, set in Burma
.

Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma (aka Myanmar) was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. She was not at the ceremony held in her honor, she was detained by the military junta that rules Burma. (The National League for Democracy won a majority of parliament seats in an election in 1990, but the Burmese junta refused to recognize the results).

In 1999, knowing that if she left Burma, she would never be allowed to return, Aung San Suu Kyi remained in Burma while her husband, Michael Aris, was dying of prostate cancer in England.

To this day, Aung San Suu Kyi remains under house arrest.


Editor's note: Aung San Suu Kyi was released from house arrest in November 2010 and elected to Pyithu Hluttaw, the lower house of the Burmese parliament, in April 2012.

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