Aung San Suu Kyi
Myanmar (Burmese) politician and human-rights campaigner, leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD), the main opposition to the military junta. She is the daughter of former Burmese premier Aung San, who fought for the country's independence. Despite Suu Kyi being placed under house arrest in 1989, the NLD won the 1990 elections, although the junta refused to surrender power. She was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1991 in recognition of her ‘nonviolent struggle for democracy and human rights’ in Myanmar. She was released from house arrest in 1995, but the junta banned her from resuming any leadership post within the NLD and she has been under house arrest for much of the period since 2000.
Throughout the 1990s her situation grabbed international attention as she was not allowed to move freely around Myanmar. In 1998, her husband, Oxford academic Michael Aris, whom she met when studying in England, was refused a visa to enter Myanmar, despite suffering from cancer, from which he died in March 1999.
In August 2000, she was involved in a nine-day roadside protest after not being allowed to travel to meet NLD members. She was placed under house arrest until May 2002 and again from May 2003, after publicly criticizing the junta's unwillingness to make concessions to democracy. The European Union and USA responded by imposing further trade sanctions against the Myanmar regime. In August 2009, her sentence to house arrest was extended for a further 18 months when she was found guilty of violating the terms of her detention after an American man swam to her compound.
She was born in Yangon (Rangoon). Her father was assassinated when she was two years old. Her mother, Khin Kyi, was Burma's ambassador in India in the 1960s, and Suu Kyi was educated at schools and universities in Myanmar, India, Britain, and the USA. She graduated in 1967 from Oxford University with a BA in philosophy, politics, and economics and worked for the United Nations from the 1970s.
She returned to Myanmar in 1988 to take care of her ailing mother. This coincided with a growing movement for democratization, which followed the retirement of the dictator General Ne Win. Influenced strongly by Mahatma Gandhi's philosophy of non-violence, Suu Kyi pressed for reform and helped found the NLD. The country's military junta placed her under house arrest in 1989 and she refused to leave Myanmar because she was told she would be refused re-entry. In 1990 the NLD won parliamentary elections, but the military did not allow it to take power and kept Suu Kyi under house arrest until July 1995.
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