History & Current Events
_ Aung San Suu Kyi was born in Rangoon, Burma on 19 June 1945. She is the daughter of Aung San – the architect of Burma’s independence from colonial rule and the leader of the Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League. He was assassinated just days before leading Burma into independence and becoming Prime Minister, at which time Aung San Suu Kyi was just 2 years old. Daw Suu, as she is respectfully called, was educated in Burma, India, and the United Kingdom, and while studying at Oxford University she met a Tibet scholar named Michael Aris, who she married in 1972. They had two sons, Alexander and Kim.
_She gave numerous speeches calling for freedom and democracy, and political activities continued across the country. In the elections of 1990 the NLD won a staggering 82% of the seats in Parliament. However, the dictatorship never recognised the results of the election, and refused to hand over power.
Following the elections Aung San Suu Kyi was placed under house arrest. Despite being released in July 1995, she still faced restrictions on travel, preventing her from seeing her sons and dying husband. On March 27, 1999, Michael Aris, died of cancer in London. He had petitioned the Burmese authorities to allow him to visit Aung San Suu Kyi one last time, but they had rejected his request. He had not seen her since a Christmas visit in 1995. The government always urged Aung San Suu Kyi to join her family abroad, but she knew that she would not be allowed to return to Burma and thus has not left the country since she arrived in 1988.
In 2002, Aung San Suu Kyi was again placed under house arrest. After having spent 15 out of the last 21 years imprisoned in her home in Rangoon, she was finally released on November 13, 2010. Aung San Suu Kyi has won numerous international awards, including the Nobel Peace Prize, the Sakharov Prize from the European Parliament and the United States Presidential Medal of Freedom. She has called on people around the world to join the struggle for freedom in Burma, famously saying, “Please use your liberty to promote ours.”
Since her release in November 2010, Aung San Suu Kyi has been working tirelessly to revitalise the democracy movement in Burma, setting up grassroots networks and addressing the people at community meetings. She has recently begun meeting with foreign diplomats and journalists - including Hilary Clinton and William Hague during their historic visits to the country in 2011 and 2012, respectively - and she will run for a seat in Parliament in the April 2012 by-elections, thanks to a change in the law that prohibited her and the NLD from participating in the November 2010 Election. Daw Suu’s video messages have been smuggled out of the country to be played for supporters around the world. She has recently spoken via video message at such prestigious forums as the Brighton Festival, the 2011 Reith Lectures and the US Congress, reflecting the high esteem in which the international community holds her views and opinions.
Sources: Oxford Burma Alliance, Burma Campaign UK
Quotes by Aung San Suu Kyi
"Please use your liberty to promote ours"
"People give me flowers all the time and I wear as many of them as I can. My mother often quoted a Burmese saying: 'A man without knowledge is like a flower without a scent.' I prefer scented flowers."
"Among the basic freedoms to which men aspire that their lives might be full and uncramped, freedom from fear stands out as both a means and an end. A people who would build a nation in which strong, democratic institutions are firmly established as a guarantee against state-induced power must first learn to liberate their own minds from apathy and fear."
"The quintessential revolution is that of the spirit, born of an intellectual conviction of the need for change in those mental attitudes and values which shape the course of a nation's development. A revolution which aims merely at changing official policies and institutions with a view to an improvement in material conditions has little chance of genuine success. Without a revolution of the spirit, the forces which produced the iniquities of the old order would continue to be operative, posing a constant threat to the process of reform and regeneration. It is not enough merely to call for freedom, democracy and human rights. There has to be a united determination to persevere in the struggle, to make sacrifices in the name of enduring truths, to resist the corrupting influences of desire, ill will, ignorance and fear."
"It is not easy for a people conditioned by fear under the iron rule of the principle that might is right to free themselves from the enervating miasma of fear. Yet even under the most crushing state machinery courage rises up again and again, for fear is not the natural state of civilized man."