Today, we celebrate the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma’s pro-democracy leader and human rights activist who has spent 15 of the past 21 years under house arrest. Suu Kyi’s release has been welcomed across the world, and it is hoped that this is the first step towards democracy within Burma (aka The Republic of the Union of Myanmar).
Suu Kyi’s political career started in August 1988, after a mass uprising against Burma’s military junta left thousands dead, Suu Kyi gave a speech, in front of 500,00 supporters, calling for an end to military rule and a new democratic government.
The following month, Suu Kyi co-founded the National League for Democracy (NLD) and became the party’s general secretary. The pro-democracy movement quickly gained support across the country, which led the junta to place Suu Kyi under house arrest for the first time in July 1989.
In May 1990, Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy won a landslide election victory, but the ruling junta refused to recognize the results. The following year, Suu Kyi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize:
for her non-violent struggle for democracy and human rights.
...Suu Kyi’s struggle is one of the most extraordinary examples of civil courage in Asia in recent decades. She has become an important symbol in the struggle against oppression…
...In awarding the Nobel Peace Prize for 1991 to Aung San Suu Kyi, the Norwegian Nobel Committee wishes to honour this woman for her unflagging efforts and to show its support for the many people throughout the world who are striving to attain democracy, human rights and ethnic conciliation by peaceful means.
In 1995, Suu Kyi was temporarily released from house arrest, but her movements were restricted. She was offered the opportunity to return to her family in the UK, but Suu Kyi opted to stay an continue the fight for democratic freedom.
These photographs from her family’s collection, reveal Suu Kyi’s life before she returned to Burma. Married to academic, Michael Aris in 1972, the couple had two children, Alexander and Kim, who are now grown men, one with a family of his own. Suu Kyi’s campaign for the greater good has come at great personal cost, her husband Michael died of prostate cancer in 1999, but he accepted what Suu Kyi saw as her destiny, as before they were married she told Aris:
“I only ask one thing, that should my people need me, you would help me to do my duty by them.”
When Aung San Suu Kyi was released today, she addressed thousands of well-wishers, saying:
“There is a time to be quiet and a time to talk. People must work in unison. Only then can we achieve our goal.”
It can only be hoped that Suu Kyi’s release is the first step towards achieving the goal of democracy within Burma.
More rare photographs of Aung San Suu Kyi after the jump
Posted by Paul Gallagher |
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