HAPPY 64TH BIRTHDAY TO AUNG SAN SUU KYI
FROM THE MIGHT OF THE PEN WEBSITE
Like the South African leader Nelson Mandela before her, Aung San Suu Kyi, has come to be seen internationally as a symbol of heroic and peaceful resistance in the face of oppression. For the Burmese people, Aung San Suu Kyi represents their best and perhaps sole hope that one day there will be an end to the country’s military repression.
She was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1991. Her sons went to Oslo to accept the award on her behalf. At the presentation, the Chairman of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee, Francis Sejested, called her “an outstanding example of the power of the powerless”. “Aung San Suu Kyi cannot be silenced because she speaks the truth,” he said.
Now aged 64, Suu Kyi is the daughter of the late Burmese nationalist leader, General Aung San, whose resistance to British colonial rule culminated in Burma’s independence in 1948.
After attending school in the Burmese capital Rangoon, Aung San Suu Kyi lived in India, and then went to Britain for her University education. This is where she met and married her husband, Michael Aris, an Oxford University academic. Already then, Michael Aris knew his wife’s destiny might ultimately lie with Burma. “Before we were married I promised my wife that I would never stand between her and her country,” he says.
Aung San Suu Kyi first came to prominence when she returned to Burma in August 1988, with her husband and their two sons remaining in Britain. She became the leader of a burgeoning pro-democracy movement in the aftermath of the brutal repression of a pro-democratic uprising earlier that summer.
The movement quickly grew into a political party that went on to win an overwhelming majority 82% percent in national elections in 1990, by which time she had already been under house arrest for a year. The military regime, however, refused to relinquish power and stepped up intensified repression of her party, the National League for Democracy.
Martin Smith, a writer on Burmese affairs, says there are several reasons why Aung San Suu Kyi proved such a natural leader. “Her father was the founder of the democratic movement. So Suu Kyi in a way had inherited that kind of tradition. “But the second thing is of course down to Aung San Suu Kyi herself, her role in the democracy movement and her speeches about the need for change in Burmese society. “And I think there is a further thing she very much had on her side – that is her comparative youth in Burmese politics.”
TO READ MORE PLEASE GO TO