Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1991, human rights activist and fierce opponent of the military regime in Burma. Before being arrested again by the military in the coup d’état in Myanmar on February 1, 2021 and sentenced to 4 years in prison, Aung San Suu Kyi was for years considered a world symbol of non-violence. In 2016 she became Burma’s State Councilor, Foreign Minister and Minister of the President’s Office, a sort of head of government de facto. However, his figure was also at the center of the controversy for the management of violence against the Burmese Muslim minority of the Rohingya.
The first clashes with the dictatorship
Daughter of the “Father of the Fatherland”, General Aung San, killed when she was only two years old, Aung San Suu Kyi was born in Yangon on June 19, 1945. At the age of 15 she left Burma to follow her mother, who became ambassador in India. Much of her life, the Asian leader spends abroad, especially in Great Britain. But in 1988, thanks to her mother’s illness, Aung San Suu Kyi returned to her homeland. And it was precisely towards the end of the 1980s that his political career and in favor of human rights began, when the country, governed by the military since 1962, was shaken by massive demonstrations in favor of democracy, then repressed in blood. Suu Kyi starts giving speeches in front of hundreds of thousands of demonstrators and quickly becomes an opposition leader. In this capacity, he then decides not to leave Burma and begins to travel across the country preaching democratic change.
House arrest and the Nobel Prize
The regime, bewildered by the speed of events and in an attempt to stem the protests, concedes the elections, but before, in 1989, it forces the opposition leader to house arrest. The new National League of Democracy (NLD), led by a Suu Kyi prisoner in her own house, triumphs at the polls in 1990, but the vote is not recognized by the generals and the opposition leader continues to be under house arrest, where she will remain for many more years. And it is during this period that she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, then withdrawn only in 2012. An international recognition that, however, does not bend the regime, which continues to maintain Suu Kyi’s life amid restrictions and deprivation of freedom.
The renunciation of the last farewell to her husband
In 1999, the generals offered her the opportunity to visit her sick husband, on condition, however, that she would never return to Burma, but Suu Kyi refused. With no Internet access and severe mail restrictions, Suu Kyi has no contact with her children. But if his opposition to the military dictatorship is viewed with admiration abroad, not everyone at home shares his unwillingness to any kind of compromise with the regime. The wall against the wall, according to some, has kept Burma steady for twenty years.
International pressure for his release
Aung San Suu Kyi’s house arrest was lifted in 1995. But this does not mean freedom for the Asian leader. In fact, at the behest of the regime, women cannot leave the country and are constantly monitored. Over the years, many world leaders have been interested in her, such as the then UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, and Pope John Paul II, as well as the United States and the European Union. In 2002, following strong pressure from the United Nations, Aung San Suu Kyi was granted greater freedom of action in the country. But on May 30, 2003, while on board a convoy with numerous supporters, a group of soldiers opened fire and massacred many people, and only thanks to the quick reflexes of her driver did she manage to escape. After this episode she was put under house arrest again, with relative deterioration of her health.
From freedom to power
Aung San Suu Kyi wins her freedom on November 10, 2010. On April 1, 2012, during a by-vote, she gets a seat in the national parliament. Three years later, the country goes to vote for the first time since the 1962 military coup and Aung San Suu Kyi’s party wins the elections, winning 291 seats. From March 30, 2016, with the inauguration of the government formed by Htin Kyaw, the 1991 Nobel laureate becomes Minister of Foreign Affairs, Public Education, Electricity and Energy and Minister of the President’s Office. On 6 April 2016, he left the departments of Education, Electricity and Energy, to become a State Councilor (a sort of Prime Minister) and act as a sort of president of the country.
The knot of the Rohingya minority
Aung San Suu Kyi’s image is clouded by the story linked to the Rohingya (WHO I AM), the Muslim minority of Burma. In 2012, violence broke out in the country during which about 100,000 members of this community were displaced. Faced with the concerns of the international community for this situation, Aung San Suu Kyi spends herself on reassuring foreign states and world institutions on respect for human rights towards the Rohingya. But the crisis for the country’s Muslim minority continues, even when the National League for Democracy takes power in 2015. On August 27, 2018, a report by the UN Independent Investigation Mission on Burma argues that the country’s military leaders must be indicted for genocide and war crimes against the Rohingya minority. According to the document, the Burmese leader, Aung San Suu Kyi “did not use her position as the de facto head of the government, nor her moral authority, to stem or prevent the events taking place in the state of Rakhine”. The Burmese civil authorities, it continues, had little margin, but “through their actions and omissions, they contributed to the commission of atrocious crimes”. For this, according to the outgoing United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ra’ad Al Hussein, Aung San Suu Kyi should have resigned.
The 2020 elections and the coup
In 2020 Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy, again wins the political elections in Myanmar. General Min Aung Hlaing, head of the armed forces, disputes the results of the ballot and asks for it to be re-examined, but the electoral commission rejects the accusations. On February 1, 2021, the Burmese armed forces carry out a coup d’état and arrest Aung San Suu Kyi and other leaders of the ruling party, sparking mass protests in the country that are violently repressed. On December 6, 2021, Aung San Suu Kyi was sentenced to 4 years in prison on charges of inciting dissent against the military and violating anti Covid measures.