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The symbol of Burmese hope.

Burma's best-known prisoner of conscience and the Nobel Peace Prize winner 1991, Aung San Suu Kyi (46) is the popular opposition leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD). She has been held incommunicado and under house arrest in Rangoon ever since her party won a landslide victory in 1990 elections. She is an accused of inciting unrest and of being a threat to national security. The military, afraid of Suu Kyi's popularity,m has refused to transfer power to a civilian government, arresting NLD leaders and emasculating the party. She was offered freedom if she agreed to leave the country and live the rest of her life abroad. But she turned down the offer.

The charismatic leader was placed under house arrest on July 1989, the day after she cancelled plans to lead a protest walk of thousands of her followers to commemorate Martyrs Day. Three years ago Suu Kyi left her home in Britain to visit her ailing mother in Burma, never knowing that in four months her life would undergo the most drastic changes. The daughter of the national hero, Gen. Aung San, who led the Burmese fight for independence from Britain following the Second World War, Suu Kyi had no premonition of the fateful role she was to play in her country's future.

Suu Kyi was only two years old when her father died in 1974, shot by a political rival on the eve of Burma's independence from Britain. But her life has always been influenced by his work and ideas. Politics was not her primary interest. After studying in Rangoon and Indian where her mother served as Ambassador, Suu Kyi went to Britain's Oxford University, earning a B.A. in philosophy in 1967. For the next four years, she worked at the United Nations secretariat in New York, where she met and married Michael Aris, a British scholar of Tibetan studies in 1972. The couple went to Bhotan where Aris took a job as private tutor to the royal family of the Himalayan Kingdom and head of the translation department. Suu Kyi herself became researcher in Bhutan's Ministry of Foreign Affair. The couple returned to Britain in 1975 when Aris accepted teaching post at Oxford University. Aris continues to live their with their two sons since Suu kyi returning to Burma in 1988. In the course of her crusade, she endured death threats, vicious smear campaigns and ultimately, detention. Although forbidden, to run in the 1990 election, she and fellow candidates from the NLD, won an overwhelming majority, soundly defeating the government backed National Unity Party. Along with Burma's 40 million people, she was swept along in the revolutionary tide that began in June 1988 with street protests and ended violently three months later with the killing by the military of thousands of demonstrating students. Since 1962 Burmas has been ruled by Gen. Ne Win, who imposed his "Burmese Road to Socialism" ideology and effectively kept the country backward and isolated from the rest of the world. Ne Win still calls the shots though he officially retired in 1988, amid popular uprisings against misrule. Saw Moung seized power in September, 1988

Most Burmese in Burma who heard of the award from foreign radio stations on October 4, were jubilant, but could not show it. Burmese living in exile in Thailand and other countries celebrated openly. The award, welcomed by many as the best means of focusing world attention on human rights situation in Burma, has been a powerful vindication for Suu Kyi's courgeousness.
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Title Annotation:Aung San Suu Kyi, opposition leader of the National League for Democracy
Publication:Economic Review
Date:Dec 1, 1991
Words:588
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