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Aung San Suu Kyi

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Suu Kyi in 2012.
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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.

Aung San Suu Kyi (born 1945) is a pro-democracy activist and General Secretary of the National League for Democracy in Burma (a.k.a. Myanmar) and a noted former-prisoner of conscience and advocate of nonviolent resistance. She was detained from 1989 until her release in November 2010.

Political career[edit]

According to the results of the 1990 general election, Suu Kyi earned the right to be Prime Minister, as leader of the winning party, but her detention by the military junta prevented her from assuming that role. She presented a major headache for the junta — too powerful to ignore and too well-known to simply be taken out and shot.

In June 2013 she announced that she wanted to be a candidate for the Myanmar Presidency in 2015. As a natural-born citizen of Myanmar, she would seem to be eligible. However, the military rulers have concocted a law disqualifying anyone who has foreign children from the presidency. Suu Kyi's sons, Alexander and Kim Aris, were born in the UK and have UK citizenship.

Suu Kyi's father, Aung San, was the head of the Burmese Army that secured Burmese independence from Britain in 1945; however, he was assassinated the very year she was born.[1] After studying in the UK, where she received her Ph.D. in African and Oriental studies, Suu Kyi returned to Burma to lead the National League for Democracy.

She also has a lesson for world leaders, not that they will take heed:

Government leaders are amazing… so often it seems they are the last to know what the people want.

In 2015 her party won a majority of seats in parliament – no small feat, considering only 75% of the seats were up for election according to the rigged constitution that reserves a quarter of the seats for unelected military representatives. Her party won at least 255 seats in the House of Representatives and 135 seats in the House of Nationalities. In addition, Suu Kyi won re-election to the House of Representatives. As the constitution bars anyone from running for the presidency if they have foreign citizens in their family, Suu Kyi announced that she will be "above the president," and that she will hold the real power in any NLD government — this in addition to her incredible grip on the party, to the point where they largely serve as her proxies rather than comrades. Many found this to be rather authoritarian, and little better than the junta she opposed for so long.[2]

Islamophobia[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Islamophobia

Suu Kyi has refused to condemn the persecution of Muslims in Burma. In October 2013, after a tense interview with BBC presenter Mishal Husain (during which Suu Kyi blamed "both sides" for the ethnic cleansing of Muslims), she was heard to mutter: "No one told me I was going to be interviewed by a Muslim." This all changed in April 2017, when she gave an interview to the BBC in which she stated "I don't think there is ethnic cleansing going on. I think ethnic cleansing is too strong an expression to use for what is happening."[3] This means she has joined the bandwagon of denialists. By August 2017, more more than 620,000 have fled to neighboring Bangladesh, "driven out by the military’s systematic campaign of massacre, rape and arson in Rakhine" State, amounting to what is widely viewed as an ethnic cleansing.[4]

Awards[edit]

  • 1990: Rafto Prize
  • 1990: Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought
  • 1991: Nobel Peace Prize
  • 1992: Jawaharlal Nehru Peace Prize
  • 2007: Made an Honorary Citizen of Canada — at the time, one of only five people to have this honor bestowed upon them.
  • 2012: Elie Wiesel Award (U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum) — rescinded in 2018 for Aung's inaction regarding the Rohingya crisis[5]

References[edit]

  1. Who killed Aung San? by Kin Oung, White Lotus Press (1996).
  2. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/18/world/asia/myanmar-aung-san-suu-kyi.html
  3. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-39507350
  4. 'No Such Thing as Rohingya': Myanmar Erases a History by Hannah Beech (Dec. 2, 2017) The New York Times.
  5. Holocaust Museum Rescinds award to Nobel winner Aung San Suu Kyi over Rohingya issue by Michelle Boorstein & Anne Gearan (March 7, 2018 at 2:44 PM) The Washington Post.