CLIO mr brice - page 9

She began by speaking out against U Ne Win, with
democracy and the rights of the Burmese people at the
centre of her argument. Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi
and Martin Luther King, she began organising rallies and
demonstrations. It didn’t take long for the military junta
to become aware of her activities. In July 1989, Aung
San Suu Kyi was placed under house arrest. The terms of
her house arrest meant that she was not permitted any
communication with the outside world, including her
two sons, by then 16 and 12, or her husband, who were
all still living in England.
The military promised Suu Kyi that if she agreed to
leave the country, they would happily free her. But she
refused, saying that her struggle would continue until the
Junta released the country into a new age of democratic
In 1990, the National League for Democracy (NLD),
whom Suu Kyi was now associated with, won 80% of
votes in a parliamentary election. However the Junta
ignored the votes and refused to hand over power to the
NLD, which angered the people as once again they felt
they weren’t being listened to.
A tough six years later, Suu Kyi was released from house
arrest. She started working for the NLD but was still
continually persecuted by the Junta. In 1998, three
years later, she founded a representative committee,
proclaiming it to be the legitimate ruling body. The Junta
once again placed her under house arrest. During this
period her husband, Michael Aris, became terminally ill
with cancer. The government offered for her to leave the
country and visit him. However she refused, worried that
she would not be let back into the country if she left. She
didn't see her husband again before he died, in March
During her house arrest, Suu Kyi meditated, played
the piano and practiced her French and Japanese.
Occasionally, she was permitted to meet her colleagues
at NLD.
She was released in 2002, and immediately resumed
her political work. In 2003, the NLD had a brawl in
the street against people demonstrating in support of
the government. Suu Kyi was arrested and placed under
house arrest again. Annually, her sentence was renewed
and, meanwhile, an international group of people fought
for her release, but without success.
John Yettaw, an American, travelled to Suu Kyi’s house
in 2009, just before her release from house arrest. He
had a dream that she was going to be killed and therefore
wanted to warn her. Suu Kyi was charged and arrested
with the crime of letting him stay in her house for two
nights, a crime which violated the terms of her house
arrest. Yettaw was also arrested.
That year the United Nations intervened, claiming that
Suu Kyi’s imprisonment was illegal and demanded that
she was released. However, once again the Junta didn’t
listen and Suu Kyi was sentenced to three years in prison.
This sentence was then shortened to 18 months and
served as a continuation of her house arrest.
Internationally, people believed that the given sentence
was only imposed to stop Suu Kyi from participating in
the parliamentary elections that were due to take place the
next year. These elections would be the first since 1990.
Their suspicions were confirmed when the government
brought in two new laws in 2010: that convicted
criminals and anyone who was married to a foreigner
could not participate in elections. Of course, Suu Kyi was
prevented on both counts, as her late husband, Michael
Aris, was English.
NLD decided not to take part in the elections under
these laws and the party disbanded. The government
easily won the elections in 2010, which were held six
days before Suu Kyi's release.
By, 2011 The NLD had decided to re-register as a party
and in 2012, Suu Kyi formally registered to run for a seat
in parliament. On April 1, 2012, the NLD announced
that after an arduous campaign, Suu Kyi had won her
On May 2, 2012, Suu Kyi began her role as a member
of parliament.
Suu Kyi had spent 15 years under house arrest, and
went through an immense personal struggle and
sacrifice to fight against the Burmese government for
her beliefs. She missed most of her sons’ childhoods and
the chance to be with her beloved husband before he
died. The peaceful conflict went on for 24 years before
Suu Kyi finally achieved her goal. However, she always
emphasises the fact she does not regret it.
Now, Suu Kyi is 70 years old, and the face of democracy
in Myanmar. She has won numerous awards including:
The Rafto prize (1990), Sakharov human rights prize
from European Parliament (1991), the International
Simon Bolivar Prize (1992), the Jawaharlal Nehru
Award (1993), the Presidential Medal of Freedom
(2000), and the Congressional Gold Medal (2008). The
most prestigious award she has received is the Nobel
Peace Prize in 1991.
Perhaps this recognition puts her sacrifices in the same
league as people who have fought on the battlefield? In
my opinion, Aung San Suu Kyi is living proof that the
term ‘conflict’ doesn’t have a fixed meaning.
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