In the year of 1947, Burma’s population was made up of “thirty-five officially recognized ethnicities, dominated by the Bamar, from the country’s heartland ” (Beech 4). During this time, the armed forces of the country were ticking time bombs and felt threatened by the countless ethnic groups as well as the government. But a man by the name of Aung San, a Bamar general, promoted that we should set aside our differences amongst everyone, which led to an end to the British rule that the country was under.
When the military saw this, they assassinated him, and this gave the spark to a civil war, plus power to the militia. The country’s name changed to Myanmar and the capital to Yangon. Though the country was slowly decaying, Aung San had a daughter by the name of Aung San Suu Kyi who was eager to follow in her father’s footsteps. Aung San Suu Kyi was to join a “burgeoning democracy movement” (Godrej 12) and promote a non-violent democratic society for the people of Burma.
When Aung San Suu Kyi’s father was killed, she moved to India with her mother Daw Khin Kyi who was Myanmar’s ambassador in Delhi. After that, she attended Oxford University in the United Kingdom and studied philosophy, politics, and economics. Eventually, she met her husband and had 2 children. She returned home in 1988 to look after her mom who was sick, which led her to give a speech in Rangoon on August 26, 1988, where she stated that she “could not as my father’s daughter remain indifferent to all that was going on,” and was propelled into leading the revolt against the then-dictator, General Ne Win (BBC 19).
Aung San Suu Kyi was inspired to do this not only because of her father but by modern-day influences like US civil rights leader Martin Luther King and India’s Mahatma Gandhi. So, she wanted to construct peaceful protesting and organize a solution for example democratic reform as well so that free elections could be administered. When doing this, Suu Kyi gained a large number of followers and led her to a have a position within the National League for Democracy (NLD). Entering the office, Suu Kyi had an agenda which consisted of her wanted to “resolve the ethnic struggles.”(Beech 6) Since the NLD was closely tied with the Army, it caused conflicts and tension. As she persistently continued to push her way, it, unfortunately, led to her being placed under house arrest. She was in and out of house arrest, but this did not stop her with her movement of trying to establish democracy and peace for her people.
The reason that Suu Kyi is so important to remember is the simple fact that she is a female activist for a country that primarily relies on men as its leaders. She is what people describe as a hidden figure in the country of Myanmar. Some people compare her to Nelson Mandela who is an African activist and who both have similar obstacles that need to be faced when trying to make an uprise, an example being Suu Kyi being placed under house arrest like Nelson Mandela. Not many people can go against the military, especially one as dangerous as this one in Myanmar. It’s considered taboo for any other to try to overthrow anything, especially in a country that’s so corrupt. Also, to mention that during her time on house arrest, she was still thinking of what her next steps are in her plan for Myanmar. But on the other hand, she “did not lead her revolution to triumph” (Prager-Nyein 10) and was seen to have “lost” (Prager-Nyein) her fight of trying to establish positivity. Suu Kyi was said to have “killed many of her party members.” (Prager-Nyein 25) Of course, there are always two sides to a person’s story and different interpretations of how the story is considered. Alongside that, she received criticism for her so-called “Buddhist-philosophical worldview, which makes her rather a “conservative force” than a “bold reformer and modernizer.” (Prager-Nyein 22) But in her defense, it should be viewed that she attempted to do something for her country and ideally wanted to establish a better environment/ society. But her radical ways are in some ways not justified. Ethnically cleansing a group of people who she felt did not want to be a follower is wrong and it should be remembered when her name is brought up. Often when discussing powerful leaders or inspiring people, we tend to only look at the good of what the person did, when ideally they most likely have extreme flaws. But you would never know that since most information that’s out there hides that information which is difficult when trying to construct your own opinions.
On the brighter side, Suu Kyi has been awarded countless awards from the Nobel Peace Prize to receiving the Rafto prize. The committee chairman awarding her called her “an outstanding example of the power of the powerless.” (BBC 1) She is also seen as a presidential figure to her people and also officials of the US. Even though technically she was unable to become president due to the fact of her children were foreign nationals but she was still seen as a de facto leader. During the Obama administration, Suu Kyi met with former President Obama to discuss democratic reforms. Also, another thing that was not awarded but is great to mention is her influence on the people of Myanmar. Ever since Suu Kyi started her constant battles of establishing peace, the people were willing and wanted to fight alongside her which in most eyes is seen as a success. Believe it or not, Suu Kyi still “remains to this day under house arrest, having spent 12 of the last 18 years in this condition.”(Godrej 13) Despite that, the country is still to this day corrupted and the war is still going on, there is the insight of the country slowly getting better. Knowing this is uplifting to her because it shows that she is honoring her father, establishing peace for her people, and is known as a wonder woman of Myanmar.[