“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.”
- Aung San Suu Kyi from her 1991 book, Freedom From Fear
This is taken from Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's pages. (Daw is an honorific similar to madam for older, revered women, literally meaning "aunt”).
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, by which time she had been under house arrest for two out of what was to become six years.
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.
Aung San Suu Kyi was born in Burma in 1945, the daughter of Gen. Aung San a hero of the independence movement who was assassinated in 1947 just before independence was achieved.
Suu Kyi studied philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford. Several years later, she moved to New York, where she did graduate studies, worked with the United Nations and volunteered at a hospital. She married Michael Aris, a Himalayan scholar she met in Oxford. He promised Suu Kyi that he would not get in the her way if her duty to Burma called her back.
She returned to Burma in 1988 to care for her critically ill mother just as the democracy movement rose to the fore, and given her background joined it. "I could not, as my father's daughter, remain indifferent to all that was going on," Suu Kyi said in a speech in Rangoon on 26 August 1988.At one stage in the Irrawaddy Delta, Suu Kyi defied the military by walking past soldiers with their rifles drawn. She was soon placed under house arrest, without trial or charge.
In 1990 democratic elections were held and her party, the National League for Democracy won in a landslide taking 80% of the seats. The military however refused to recognize the result and brutally repressed the party and has since run the country as a military dictatorship.
Suu Kyi has since this spent most of her time under arrest of one kind or another apart from odd occasions where she has been released, probably because of international pressure. On one of these releases in 1993 an attempt was made by the military to murder her when her convoy was ambushed and many of her supporters were killed.
She escaped only because of the courage of her driver but was arrested again shortly afterward.
Her political ideals are reflected in the “Manifesto of the National League for Democracy. It shows a considerable understanding of individual freedom, along with strong support for real human rights, but her economic policies seem to come mainly from a statist viewpoint, probably because of her Oxford background.
I doubt that a stronger, more courageous woman has ever existed and not many men could match her. This woman deserves all of the support the world community can give her.