Aung San Suu Kyi was born as the daughter of a famous Burmese military officer, Aung San. She is one of the world’s most renowned freedom fighter and advocates of non-violence. Aung San followed the footprints of her father and emerged as a central figure of the pro-democracy movement in Myanmar. Active in politics since 1988, Aung San has spent most of her time under several house arrests and bans. The venerated leader has won many national and international awards including Sakharov Prize from the European Parliament in 1990, United States Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Jawaharlal Nehru Award from India and Rafto Human Rights Prize and was awarded the honorary Nobel Peace Prize for her non-violent struggle against the dictatorship in year 1991.
Aung San Suu Kyi was born on 19 June 1945. Her father was assassinated when she was barely two years old. She followed her mother, who was working as the External Affairs Ministry, to India and continued her studies there. After graduating from Lady Shri Ram College, she furthered her studies at Oxford University and completed her BA in philosophy, politics and economics at St. Hugh’s College, Oxford University in 1967.
In 1969, during her visit to the United States, Suu Kyi met United Nations’ Secretary General U Thant and joined as the Assistant Secretary, Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions. In 1972, Suu Kyi worked as the Research Officer at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bhutan. Same year she married Dr. Michael Aris, a scholar of Tibetan culture, living in Bhutan. The couple had two children, Alexander and Kim. During 1985-86, Suu Kyi studied at the Center of Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University, as a visiting scholar. Suu Kyi completed her fellowship at the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Shimla, in 1987.
In 1988, Suu Kyi returned to Myanmar to aid her ill mother. It all started after the resignation of General Ne Win. Suu Kyi sent an open letter in request to establish a rule of the people. The citizens of Myanmar supported her, but unfortunately the event had led to the death of 10,000 people, in action of the ruling junta against the uprising throughout the country. In September 1988, Aung San Suu Kyi had her first political move, which was to join the National League of Democracy as its secretary-general. Suu Kyi gave many speeches, calling for freedom and democracy. On July 20, 1989 she was placed under house arrest in the city of Rangoon. On the same year, her mother died of a prolonged illness. Even during her house arrest, the junta was forced to call for a general election in 1990. NLD had won 82% of seats in the parliament, but the junta regime refused to recognise the results. In 1995, Suu Kyi was finally released from her house arrest. The military had offered her to leave the country, but Suu Kyi had refused.
After her release, Aung San Suu Kyi was still determined for democracy in Myanmar. This increased her popularity globally. The international political powers supported her and encouraged the commerce. The military rulers increasingly restricted Suu Kyi's movements during 1996. She was also barred from traveling outside Rangoon and put under house arrest. In May 2002, Suu Kyi was released and the military government indicated that the release was unconditional and that Suu Kyi was free to pursue her political activities as leader of the NLD.
She was again arrested and placed behind bars in May 2003 after the Depayin massacre, during which up to 100 of her supporters were beaten to death by the regime's cronies. She moved from prison back into house arrest in late 2003 and was recently released.
On March 27 1999, while Aung San Suu Kyi was in Burma, Michael Aris died of cancer in London. He had petitioned the Burmese authorities to allow him to visit Suu Kyi one last time, but they had rejected his request. The government always urged Suu Kyi to join her family abroad, but she knew that she would not be allowed to return.
The reason we had chosen Aung San Suu Kyi as the female personality we respect and idolize, is because of her determination to give freedom and democracy to her country. Although arrested many times, she demands for what she wants, and it was the right to choose. Suu Kyi is also a very strong woman. Although she had been through many ups and downs, she did not stop fighting. She also was inspired by Mahatma Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr., whom did not use violence to win freedom.
by Nur Elyna and Nuryn Lyana