Lady of Freedom

Separated from her children and could not even attend her husband’s funeral, she put her country above all sacrificing everything.

An ardent advocate for human rights and freedom, she worked relentlessly to make her country feature among the democratic nations of the world.

In 1991, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

 

Childhood

Aung San Suu Kyi was born on 19 June 1945 in Yangon. She is the daughter of Myanmar’s independence hero, Aung San, who was assassinated when she was only two years old.

Suu Kyi was educated in Myanmar, India, and the UK. She obtained her bachelor’s degree from the University of Oxford in 1969. 

 

Career

After her graduation, she started working with the UN particularly as a writer on budget matters, a job which she continued for three years. 

Suu Kyi returned to Myanmar in 1988, amidst the slaughter of protesters rallying against Myanmar dictator U Ne Win’s iron-fisted rule. She began speaking out against him, with democracy and human rights at the fore of her struggle.

It did not take long for the junta to notice her efforts, and in 1989, the government placed Suu Kyi under house arrest and cut off any communication she might have with the outside world.

In 1990, a parliamentary election was held, and the party with which Suu Kyi was affiliated won more than 80% of the parliamentary seats. The election results, though, were ignored by the junta.

Suu Kyi was released from house arrest in July 1995. Three years later, she founded a representative committee and declared it as the country’s legitimate ruling body, and in response; the junta once again placed her under house arrest in 2000. She was released in May of 2002.

A year later, she was put under house arrest again after her party supporters clashed with the government. Her sentence was then renewed yearly, and the international community came to her aid each time, calling continually for her release.

In May 2009, Suu Kyi was arrested and charged with breaking the terms of her house arrest, which forbids visitors.  A US citizen swam to her house and refused to leave.

In August 2009 she was convicted, and sentenced to 18 months under house arrest.  By coincidence, this meant her release date turned out to be just 6 days after elections held in Myanmar, thereby ensuring that once again she was in detention during elections.

She was finally released from house arrest in November 2010.

 

Personal Life

Suu Kyi married Michael Aris in 1971. She has two kids. Since 1989, when his wife was first placed under house arrest, he had seen her only five times, the last of which was for Christmas in 1995.

She was also separated from her children, who live in the UK but starting in 2011, they have visited her in Burma.

Awards

Kyi has received the Rafto prize and Sakharov Prize (1990) and the Jawaharlal Nehru Award (1993), among other accolades.

In 2007, Suu Kyi was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, and in May 2008, US President George Bush signed the vote into law, making Suu Kyi the first person in American history to receive the prize while imprisoned.

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