Sunday, November 14, 2010
Time to start playing that Piano now...
Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of Burma's fight against military dictatorship, was freed from house arrest on the 13th of November, just days after a military-backed party won the first election in two decades.
Here are some facts about Ms Suu Kyi, who went from being an housewife in England to a Nobel peace prize laureate detained for 15 of the last 21 years because of her fight for democracy in the former Burma.
- Born in Rangoon (now Yangon) in June 1945, she is daughter of General Aung San, an independence hero assassinated in 1947. Her mother, Khin Kyi, was also a prominent figure.
- She studied politics in New Delhi and philosophy, politics and economics at Britain's Oxford University. In 1972, she married British academic Michael Aris.
- Ms Suu Kyi returned to Yangon in April 1988 to take care of her dying mother at a time of countrywide pro-democracy protests against the army regime. Keen to continue her father's legacy, she entered politics and helped set up the National League for Democracy (NLD) party, becoming its secretary-general and calling for an end to military rule.
- The junta placed the charismatic and popular Ms Suu Kyi under house arrest in July 1989 for "endangering the state". The next year, even without her, the NLD won 392 of 485 parliamentary seats in Burma's first election in almost 30 years. The military refused to relinquish power.
- Ms Suu Kyi, awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, has been in prison or under house arrest off and on for 15 years since 1989.
- Her husband died in Britain in 1999. Ms Suu Kyi declined an offer from the junta to go to Britain for his funeral, fearing she would not be allowed back if she left.
- She was initially freed in 1995, but was not allowed to travel outside Yangon to meet supporters. A pro-junta gang attacked a convoy carrying Ms Suu Kyi, top party officials and supporters near Depayin town in 2003. The junta said four people were killed. Rights groups said as many as 70 were killed in the ambush. She was detained again soon after.
- She was found guilty on August 11th, 2009, of breaking a security law by allowing US intruder John Yettaw to stay at her lakeside home for two nights. Critics said the charges were trumped up to stop her from having any influence over the polls.
- She has since made several offers to the junta to lobby the international community to lift a wide range of sanctions on the country, most of which have been in place for more than two decades. Junta strongman Than Shwe never responded and the regime described her move as "insincere" and "dishonest".
- Ms Suu Kyi's said she "would not dream" of taking part in last Sunday's election and her NLD boycotted the vote. As a result, the party was officially dissolved.
- A breakaway NLD faction did contest, but won only a handful of seats.
(taken kindly from The Irish Times)
Damien Rice's Unplayed Piano was written in her honour, and its also my favourite of Damien's songs. So this ones for you Aung San Suu Kyi, kick some Burma militia ass!