Aung San Suu Kyi is statecounsellor of Myanmar and winner of the 1991 Nobel Prize for Peace.
. Aung San SuuKyi was born in Yangon, Myanmar, in 1945. After years of living and studyingabroad, she returned home only to find widespread slaughter of protestersrallying against the brutal rule of dictator U Ne Win. She spoke outagainst him and initiated a nonviolent movement toward achieving democracy andhuman rights. However, in 1989, the government placed Suu Kyi under housearrest, and she spent 15 of the next 21 years in custody. In 1991, her ongoingefforts won her the Nobel Prize for Peace, and she was finally released fromhouse arrest in November 2010 and subsequently held a seat in parliament forthe National League for Democracy party until 2015. That November, the NLD wona landslide victory, giving them a majority control of parliament and allowingthem to select the country's next president. It March 2016 Suu Kyi's adviserHtin Kyaw was selected for the post, and the following month Suu Kyi was namedthe state counsellor, a position above the presidency that allows her to directthe country's affairs
Aung San Suu Kyi was born on June 19, 1945 in Yangon,Myanmar, a country traditionally known as Burma. Her father, formerly the defacto prime minister of British Burma, was assassinated in 1947. Her mother,Khin Kyi, was appointed ambassador to India in 1960. After attending highschool in India, Suu Kyi studied philosophy, politics and economics at theUniversity of Oxford, where she received a B.A. in 1967. During that time shemet Michael Aris, a scholar in Bhutanese studies, whom she married in 1972.They had two children—Alexander and Kim—and the family spent the 1970s and '80sin England, the United States and India.
However, in 1988, Suu Kyi returned to Burma to care for herdying mother, and her life took a dramatic turn.
In 1962, dictator UNe Win staged a successful coupd'detat in Burma, which spurred intermittent protests over his policies duringthe subsequent decades. By 1988, he had resigned his post of party chairman,essentially leaving the country in the hands of a military junta, but stayedbehind the scenes to orchestrate various violent responses to the continuingprotests and other events.
In 1988, when Suu Kyi returned to Burma from abroad, it wasamidst the slaughter of protesters rallying against U Ne Win and his ironfistedrule. She soon began speaking out publicly against him, with issues ofdemocracy and human rights at the fore of her agenda. It did not take long forthe junta to notice her efforts, and in July 1989, the military government ofBurma—which was renamed the Union of Myanmar—placed Suu Kyi under house arrest,cutting off any communication with the outside world.
Though the Union military told Suu Kyi that if she agreed toleave the country, they would free her, she refused to do so, insisting thather struggle would continue until the junta released the country to a civiliangovernment and political prisoners were freed. In 1990, an election was held,and the party with which Suu Kyi was now affiliated—the National League forDemocracy—won more than 80 percent of the parliamentary seats. However, theelection results, were predictably ignored by the junta. Twenty years later,they formally annulled the results.
Suu Kyi was released from house arrest in July 1995, and thenext year she attended the NLD party congress, under the continual harassmentof the military. Three years later, she founded a representative committee anddeclared it as the country's legitimate ruling body, and in response, inSeptember 2000, the junta once again placed her under house arrest. She wasreleased in May 2002.
In 2003, the NLD clashedin the streets with pro-government demonstrators, and Suu Kyi was yet againarrested and placed under house arrest. Her sentence was then renewed yearly,and the international community came to her aid each time, calling continually,but futiley, for her release.
In May 2009, just before she was set to be released from housearrest, Suu Kyi was arrested once more, this time charged with an actualcrime—allowing an intruder to spend two nights at her home, a violation of herterms of house arrest. The intruder, an American named John Yettaw, had swum toher house to warn her, allegedly after having a vision of an attempt on herlife. He was also subsequently imprisoned, returning to the United States inAugust 2009.
That same year, the United Nations declared that Suu Kyi'sdetention was illegal under Myanmar law. In August, however, Suu Kyi went totrial and was convicted and sentenced to three years in prison. The sentencewas reduced to 18 months, however, and she was allowed to serve it as acontinuation of her house arrest. Those within Myanmar and the concernedinternational community believed that the ruling was simply brought down toprevent Suu Kyi from participating in the multiparty parliamentary electionsscheduled for the following year (the first since 1990). These fears wererealized when a series of new election laws were put in place in March 2010:One law prohibited convicted criminals from participating in elections, andanother barred anyone married to a foreign national from running for office.(Suu Kyi's husband was English.)
In support of Suu Kyi, the NLD refused to re-register the partyunder these new laws and was disbanded. The government parties ran virtuallyunopposed in the 2010 election and easily won a vast majority of legislativeseats, with charges of fraud following in their wake. Suu Kyi was released fromhouse arrest six days after the election.
In November 2011, the NLD announced that it would re-register asa political party, and in January 2012, Suu Kyi formally registered to run fora seat in parliament. On April 1, 2012, following a grueling and exhaustingcampaign, the NLD announced that Suu Kyi had won her election. A news broadcaston state-run MRTV confirmed her victory, and on May 2, 2012, Suu Kyi tookoffice.
With Suu Kyi having won reelection as leader of her party in2013, the country again held parliamentary elections on November 8,2015, in what was viewed as the most open voting process in decades. Lessthan a week later, on November 13, the NLD was officially able todeclare a landslide victory, having won 378 seats in a 664-seatparliament.
In early March 2016, theparty selected the country's new president, Htin Kyaw, who had been a longtimeadviser to Suu Kyi. He was sworn in at the end of the month. Because of SuuKyi's marriage to a British national, she remains constitutionally barred fromthe presidency. However, in April 2016 the position of state counsellor wascreated to allow her a greater role in the country's affairs. Suu Kyi haspublicly stated her intention to rule "above the president" untilchanges to the constitution can be addressed.
In 1991, Suu Kyi was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace. She hasalso received the Rafto prize (1990), the International Simón Bolívar Prize (1992) and the Jawaharlal Nehru Award (1993), among other accolades.
In December 2007, the U.S.House of Representatives voted 400–0 to award Suu Kyi the Congressional GoldMedal, and in May 2008, U.S. President George W. Bush signedthe vote into law, making Suu Kyi the first person in American history toreceive the prize while imprisoned.