New Humanist

Aung San Suu Kyi

(Burma) (1945-)

“Non-violence means a positive action…it is not that we stay seated without doing anything…we do it in a non-violent way”
Aung San Suu Kyi is the emblematic figure of the Burma opposition against military dictatorship that has been in power since 1962.
Mahatma Gandhi inspired her when she learned about him while she was in India with her mother. Her mother was the ambassador of India and her father Aung San was the leader for the liberation of Burma.

From Gandhi she developed a commitment to non-violence and from her father the leadership as a duty that needs to be carried out humbly.

In 1988, Burma saw a non-violent rebellion that involved thousands of people, asking for an improvement in the quality-of-life and respect for human rights. In August of 1988, Aung San Suu Kyi, led a massive protest of 500,000 people in front of the Pagoda of Shwedagi, Rangoon, calling for democracy—all inspired by Gandhi and her Buddhist faith. Because of she was known as the daughter of Aung San and also because of the courage she demonstrated in front of the riot squads, she was immediately seen as the leader of the mass uprising.

Aung San was appointed secretary of the General National League for Democracy (LND), which promotes the politics of civil disobedience. Suu Kyi continues to campaign despite the harassments, detentions, and assassinations of her followers.
At the Irrawaddy Delta, Suu Kyi bravely gave a speech while rifles were pointed at her. She was arrested at her home without charges or trial. Her party won the elections regardless of her detention with 82% of the seats at in Parliament. The Military Committee denied the results.

During the protest a lot of women, Buddhist nuns, students, and housewives join to the protest by using pans and pods to make noise.

SuuKyi won the Nobel Peace price in 1991. The Swedish academy recognized her as an activist that made “an enormous non-violent contribution to democracy”. During the ceremony in the same year, Aung San SuuKyi was still detained in Burma. Her kids and husband accepted the award on her behalf.

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