Aung San Suu Kyi

Iconic Burmese pro-democracy leader, Nobel Peace Prize winner, and former prisoner of conscience

Asia-Pacific and South Asia
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 AungSaanSuuKyi

Aung San Suu Kyi was one of the world’s most prominent political prisoners until her release from house arrest in November 2010. She has built a unique international profile over the last three decades. Only recently allowed to campaign on the opposition ticket, she was elected Member of Parliament from Kawmhu Constituency in 2012 and is leading a nationwide push against the military dictatorship as chair of the National League for Democracy. In addition to the Nobel Peace Prize, which she won in 1991, shereceived the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought from the EuropeanParliament, the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Václav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent, the Thorolf Rafto Memorial Prize, and countless other awards commemorating her work to support democracy and human rights. In June 2013, she announced her wish to run for the presidency of Burma in the next elections, tobe held in 2015. Suu Kyi was born in 1945 in British Burma. Her father,Aung San, was the founder of the modern Burmese army and was instrumental in negotiating Burma’s independence from the British Empire in 1947. After graduating from Oxford, Suu Kyi lived in New York City, working at the United Nations, and in Bhutan, where she met her future husband, Michael Aris. Suu Kyi returned to Burma in 1988 to care for her ailing mother. That year, the longtime military leader of Burma, General Ne Win,stepped down. Mass demonstrations for democracy and freedom followed in the days after. On August 8, 1988, the government brutally suppressed the protests,known as the 8888 Uprising. Influenced by Buddhist principles and Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy of nonviolence, Suu Kyi founded the National League for Democracy (NLD) and formerly entered politics after a new military junta took power. In 1990, the junta called for elections; the NLD received 59% of the votes and a guaranteed 80% of parliamentary seats. However, the junta nullified the results and placed Suu Kyi under house arrest, where she remained for 15 ofthe next 21 years, separated from her husband and children. Suu Kyi’s imprisonment finally ended in November 2010,when she was formally released. In preparation for the 2012 by-elections, Suu Kyi and the NLD re-registered as a political party in 2011. Suu Kyi won her seat and was sworn in alongside 44 other members of the NLD. Suu Kyi stated that she hopes to run for the presidency in Burma’s 2015 elections. During her time under house arrest, Suu Kyi became aniconic political prisoner and won the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, as well as the Nobel Peace Prize.

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