It is not enough merely to call for freedom, democracy and human rights. There has to be a united determination to persevere in the struggle, to make sacrifices in the name of enduring truths, to resist the corrupting influences of desire, ill will, ignorance and fear. - Aung San Suu Kyi
Aung San Suu Kyi is known as Southeast Asia’s Nelson Mandela. She spent 15 of the past 20 years imprisoned due to her dedication to justice and democracy.
Her story begins in 1988, when she left England to care for her ailing mother in Burma. Since 1962, Burma has been ruled by the military, and on August 8, 1988, peaceful protests for freedom took place. The streets of Rangoon were flooded with over 500,000 people. The military regime attacked the protesters, and an estimated 3,000 people were killed; thousands more were injured and put into squalid prisons.
Aung San Suu Kyi, the daughter of Burmese Independence hero General Aung San, sprang into action. Under heavy international pressure, the Burmese military regime announced democratic elections would be held in 1990. Aung San Suu Kyi formed a political party which represented the will of the people. Multiple assassination attempts were made on her life during campaigning. And although she was forced into prison at the time of the election, her political party, the National League for Democracy, received an overwhelming 82% of the popular vote.
However, the regime refused to acknowledge the results of the election and kept Aung San Suu Kyi in prison. By now, thousands of Burmese people were behind bars as political prisoners. Many others escaped and worked for democracy in other countries such as the United States, the UK, Australia, and Norway.
Released in November 2010, she has continued her fight for freedom in her country, and has been a leader in bringing democratic change to her country.
Because of her ironclad conviction, and her grace and poise despite the litany of persecution she has received, she has been nicknamed, the “Titanium Orchid.”
On September 18, 2012, Aung San Suu Kyi will make her historic first trip to the United States in 25 years. Please visit the US Campaign for Burma to see the list of her scheduled events.