Aung San Suu Kyi

Aung San Suu Kyi
Aung San Suu Kyi was born in Rangoon on June 19, 1945 to parents Aung San and Khin Kyi. Her father, Aung San, was a political figure and was assassinated when Suu Kyi was only a toddler. Khin Kyi was also a political figure and became the Burmese ambassador to India and Nepal in 1960. Suu Kyi earned a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics in 1969 from Oxford. In 1971 she married Dr. Michael Aris and soon thereafter had a son, Alexander. Their second son, Kim, was born in 1977. Suu Kyi returned to Burma in 1988 to care for her dying mother.

At the time that Suu Kyi returned to Burma, the long-time party chairman, General Ne Win, resigned from his position. There were many demonstrations that called for democracy, which were violently suppressed. On one occasion, Suu Kyi addressed half a million people at a rally about the need for a democratic government. Unfortunately, a military junta took power in General Ne Win’s place.

Inspired by people like Gandhi and the philosophies of Buddhism, Suu Kyi continued to speak out against the government in the name of human rights and democracy, and the government took notice. They threatened her with house arrest unless she promised to leave the country, but she refused to do so. She was officially put under house arrest on July 20, 1989. She would spend the next two decades periodically in and out of house arrest.

Though she spent much time under house arrest, she never gave up hope and she never stopped fighting for human rights. She stayed active in her political party and attended meetings every chance she got during her periods of release from house arrest. Because she recognized that the government was using the house arrests to control her, she continually appealed to be released. She also used this time to grow personally, by reading, studying, and even playing piano. She was finally released from house arrest for good on November 13, 2010. On May 2, 2012, Suu Kyi officially became a member of parliament.

Suu Kyi has received many awards and much recognition from the global community for her efforts to fight for human rights. In 1990, she received the Rafto Prize and the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought and in 1991, she received the Nobel Peace Prize. Some other awards she has earned include the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding, the Wallenberg Medal, the Congressional Gold Medal, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Aung San Suu Kyi is truly an example of bravery and resilience for all human rights advocates. She was willing to do whatever she had to do in the name of human rights; how many of us can say the same? She is a truly remarkable woman and an exceptional example for human rights activists everywhere.

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