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Aung San Suu Kyi – A Fighter for Democracy

On June 19, Aung San Suu Kyi was born on 19 June 1945 in Rangoon (now Yangon) in Myanmar. Back then, the country was called Burma and remained under British rule until 1947. While this did mean independence from the European powers, it did not mean peace as the Myanmar government was fought with corruption and infighting in large part because of the military which exerted much influence. Aung Sang Suu Kyi would be among those who fought against the military’s influence and would transition her country to democracy.

From Dictator to Democracy

Aung San Suu Kyi is the daughter of Aung San, a key figure in Myanmar’s independence movement. Her father helped create the modern Myanmar military, giving her close ties to the army which would be important later on. Unfortunately, her father would be assassinated while Aung San was sent to study abroad in Oxford. 

While she was gone, her home country would become increasingly authoritarian with the military forming a junta that took over the government. This period was marked by political persecution and corruption. At the time, Aung San Suu Kyi mother was a politician, but her failing health forced Aung San to return home and care for her in 1888.

At the same time, this was a period of intense political turmoil and widespread protests against the military dictatorship of General Ne Win. The 8888 Uprising, a series of nationwide protests for democracy, saw the military respond with brutal force, killing thousands of demonstrators.

Aung San Suu Kyi co-founded the National League for Democracy (NLD) in 1988, during a period of political upheaval and military repression. Her efforts led to her house arrest for nearly 15 years between 1989 and 2010, which drew global attention and support for her cause.

Aung San Suu Kyi Political Career

In 1991, Aung San Suu Kyi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her peaceful and determined struggle against Myanmar’s military regime. After her release from house arrest, she played a crucial role in Myanmar’s transition to a civilian government. In 2015, her party, the NLD, won a landslide victory in the general elections, and she became the de facto leader of Myanmar, assuming the role of State Counsellor.

However, Aung San Suu Kyi leadership has been controversial due to her handling of the Rohingya crisis. The military’s crackdown on the Rohingya Muslim minority in 2017, which led to widespread allegations of human rights abuses and ethnic cleansing, severely tarnished her international reputation. Despite this, she remains a significant figure in Myanmar’s political landscape.

In February 2021, a military coup ousted her government, and she was detained along with other NLD leaders. Since then, she has faced various charges from the military junta, and her political future remains uncertain.

After being arrested and detained, there were worries about Aung San Suu Kyi’s health. However, the military’s spokesperson, Zaw Min Tun, said they are taking special care of her health and living conditions. Don Pramudwinai also mentioned that she was in good physical and mental health.

Even though the junta spokesperson claimed she is healthy, since being sent back to prison in September 2023, her health has been reported to be getting worse. She is suffering from a toothache and can’t eat properly, but her request to see a dentist has been denied. Her son is urging the junta to allow her to get medical help.

These ideas were immortalized in her immortal “Power does not corrupt” speech in 1999.

“It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it. Most Burmese are familiar with the four a-gati, the four kinds of corruption. Chanda-gati, corruption induced by desire, is deviation from the right path in pursuit of bribes or for the sake of those one loves.

“Dosa-gati is taking the wrong path to spite those against whom one bears ill will, and moga-gati is aberration due to ignorance. But perhaps the worst of the four is bhaya-gati, for not only does bhaya, fear, stifle and slowly destroy all sense of right and wrong, it so often lies at the root of the other three kinds of corruption.”

Aung Sang Suu Kyi , Former State Counsellor for Myanmar.
aung san suu kyi  letter
aung san suu kyi

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