Eight Women Around the World

 

Aung San Suu Kyi Home l Biography l References

 

Aung San Suu Kyi Biography

Early Life l Political Life

 

 

Early Life

 

Aung San Suu Kyi as a child with her family

Aung San Suu Kyi as a child (far left)

 

Aung San Suu Kyi was born on June 19th, 1945, in Rangoon, the capital of Burma. Suu Kyi was the youngest of three children - she had two brothers, Aung San Lin, who died at a young age in a swimming accident, and Aung San Oo, who migrated to the San Diego, California and became a citizen of the United States. Her father, Aung San, was a leading military general who orchestrated Burma’s independence from the United Kingdom and raised the Burmese army. Her father was assassinated on July 19th, 1947, when Suu Kyi was only two years old. After her father’s murder and the establishment of the new independent Burmese government on January 4th, 1948, Suu Kyi’s mother, Daw Khin Kyi, became a prominent figure in politics, working for the External Affairs Ministry.

 

Suu Kyi was educated through the English Catholic school system in Burma for 15 years, until 1960, when her mother was chosen to be the Burmese ambassador to India. Daw Khin Kyi took her daughter with her to New Delhi where she attended and graduated from Lady Shri Ram College of Delhi University. 
 
In 1964, Suu Kyi went to England to further her education; and in 1967 she received a B.A. degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics from St. Hugh’s College of Oxford Academy. Then in 1969, Suu Kyi went to in New York City to continue with her studies, but postponed them in order to work as the Assistant Secretary at the U.N. Secretariat.
 

Aung San Suu Kyi and Michael Aris

Aung San Suu Kyi and her future husband Michael Aris

 

She left New York in 1971, and in 1972 she married Michael Aris, a Tibetan culture scholar whom she had met while studying in England. Suu Kyi and Aris had two sons together, Alexander, in 1972, and Kim, in 1977.  She remained in England until 1985, when she continued her studies at Kyoto University in Japan for a year and completed her fellowship at the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies in Shimla, India in 1987.

 

Finally, in 1988, Aung San Suu Kyi returned to Burma to care for her ailing mother.  

 

 

Back to Top

 

 

 

 

Political Life

 

Aung San Suu Kyi

Aung San Suu Kyi speaking to her supporters (1988)

 

In 1988, while Aung San Suu Kyi was in Burma taking care of her mother, Burma’s military dictator since 1962, General Ne Win, resigned on July 23rd – prompting pro-democracy protests throughout the country. On August 8th, there was a nation-wide uprising that the military junta in power suppressed by killing thousands of demonstrates.

 

Suu Kyi’s first political action was sending an open letter to the Burmese government “asking for formation of independent consultative committee to prepare multi-party elections.” * However, the militaristic government instead created the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) which prohibited the rights of the Burmese people – limiting the number of people could gather to discuss politics and arrests and/or prosecution without a trial are reinstated. Despite the attempts of complete government control by the military junta, on September 24th, the National League for Democracy (NLD) was formed, with Aung San Suu Kyi as its Secretary-General.

 

On January 2nd, 1989, after attending her mother’s funeral (Daw Khin Kyi died on December 27th, 1988, due to her ailing health), Aung San Suu Kyi announced “that as her father and mother had served the people of Burma, so too would she, even unto death.” * She then, defying the laws set in place by the SLORC, travelled throughout the country delivering speeches in support of democracy. On July 20th, however, Suu Kyi was placed under house arrest at her home in Rangoon – she would remain there until July 10th, 1995. During her imprisonment, despite being unable to run, Suu Kyi’s party, the NLD, won the May 27th, 1990, democratic elections by 82% – the military junta however, refused to acknowledge the results and remained in power. During this time she was also awarded a number of human rights awards – including the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, which her sons Alexander and Kim accepted on her behalf.

 

From 1995 to 2000, Suu Kyi continued her campaign for a democratic Burma, despite being under strict “supervision,” threats from the government, and the loss of her husband in 1999 to prostate cancer. Yet on September 23rd, 2000, she was placed back under house arrest until May 6th, 2002. Throughout the next eight years, Suu Kyi was constantly fighting for a democratic Burma, despite being placed back under house arrest on May 6th, 2003.

 

Aung San Suu Kyi

Aung San Suu Kyi waving to her supporters on the day of her release (Nov. 13th, 2010)

 

Finally on November 13th, 2010, Aung San Suu Kyi was released from house arrest, having missed the first democratic elections since 1990, once again.

 

* "Aung San Suu Kyi - Biography"

 

 

Back to Top