Aung San Suu Kyi is a Burmese politician, diplomat, author, and Nobel Peace Prize laureate (1991).
She is the leader of the National League for Democracy and the first and incumbent State Counsellor, a position akin to a prime minister.
A devout Buddhist, Suu Kyi won the Rafto Prize and the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in 1990. Later in 1991, Nobel Committee awarded her the Nobel Peace Prize for her peaceful and nonviolent struggle under a repressive military dictatorship.
Aung San Suu Kyi Early Life
Aung San Suu Kyi was born on June 19, 1945 in the city of Rangoon, Burma. She is the daughter of General Aung San Kyi and Daw Khin Kyi.
Her father, General Aung San was a popular hero, who helped to establish the national independence (1948). His enemy assassinated Aung San in July 1947. She lived with her mother, Khin Kyi, and two brothers.
Suu Kyi’s mother, Khin Kyi, gained prominence as a political figure in the newly formed Burmese government. Later she was appointed Burmese ambassador to India and Nepal in 1960, and Aung San Suu Kyi followed her there.
She lived and studied in India and the United Kingdom since early childhood. She graduated from the University of Delhi in 1964 and the University of Oxford in 1968. Later she worked at the United Nations for three years.
She married Michael Aris in 1972, with whom she had two children.
In 1988, she returned to Burma at a time of political upheaval to take care of her ailing mother. Later she ended up leading the National League for Democracy (NLD) in opposition to the ruling military regime.
Doctor diagnosed Aris with terminal prostate cancer in 1997. Aris died on his 53rd birthday on 27 March 1999.
Aung San Suu Kyi Political Movement
Inspired by the non-violent practices of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., Suu Kyi entered politics to work for democratisation.
She also helped to establish the National League for Democracy on September 27, 1988. Soon Army put her under house arrest on July 20, 1989.
Later Army offered her freedom to Aung San Suu Kyi if she would leave the country, but she refused.
The authorities arrested her again in 2002, during the time when the NLD was having secret negotiations with the Junta (or the ruling military) in an effort to break the political deadlock.
In May 2003, Army detained her and took her into “protective custody” as confrontations between the NLD and the government supporters increased.
Despite diplomatic pressure and international pleas for her release, she continues to be held in Myanmar. In May 2006, the ruling military Junta announced an extension of her house arrest for an indefinite period.
Buddhism & Democracy
During her time under house arrest, Aung San Suu Kyi devoted herself to Buddhist meditation practices and studying Buddhist thought.
This deeper interest in Buddhism is reflected in her writings as more emphasis is put on love and compassion.
There also emerged more discussion on the compatibility of democracy and Buddhism and the ability of gaining freedom from an authoritarian government through Buddhism.
Aung San Suu Kyi Rise to Power
In the 2015 elections, her party won a landslide victory, taking 86% of the seats in the Assembly of the Union.
She has well more than the 67% supermajority needed to ensure that its election of preferred candidates for President and Second Vice President in the Presidential Electoral College.
As her late husband and children are foreign citizens. She was prohibited from becoming the President due to a clause in the constitution.
She assumed the newly created role of State Counsellor, a role akin to a Prime Minister or a head of government.
Aung San Suu Kyi Awards
She has won numerous international awards, including the Sakharov Prize from the European Parliament, United States Presidential Medal of Freedom, Jawaharlal Nehru Award from India and Rafto Human Rights Prize.
Aung San Suu Kyi’s honours include the Nobel Peace Prize, which she won in 1991. Time Magazine named her one of the “Children of Gandhi” and his spiritual heir to nonviolence.
On 19 September 2012, President presented him with the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honour in the United States.