Aka ‘Daw Suu’, aka ‘The Lady’, aka ‘Aunty’
Aung San Suu Kyi translates to ‘A Bright Collection of Strange Victories’
Last night I attended the Amnesty International Australia (AIA), Victoria dinner held in honour of her birthday, as held annually.
I have only just learned about her through AIA and from what I have heard and can read about her can only hold her in high regard and do my best to both support and herald more support for her as her situation continues.
“Born on 19 June 1945 in Rangoon (now Yangon), Burma (now Myanmar). Her father, Aung San, is Burma’s most respected independence hero. Her mother, Ma Khin Kyi, is a senior nurse at Rangoon general hospital and will become a leading public figure and diplomat.
Background to Burma: The influence of Europe begins to be felt in the Irrawaddy delta in the 16th Century. British intrusion mounts at the start of the 19th Century, culminating in 1886 when Britain takes full control of the country, naming it Burma. The British are temporarily forced out by the Japanese during the Second World War and leave for good in 1948 when Burma is declared independent.
In 1962 the Burmese Government is overthrown in a military coup d’état led by General Ne Win. The coup leaders attempt to create a single-party socialist state but end up ruining the country’s economy. Popular unrest against the military regime grows, coming to a head in 1987-88 when rioting breaks out. The regime responds with force.
In the last four years her movements have still been restricted. While she has had some opportunities to telephone her family in England, she is regularly denounced in the government-controlled media, and there is concern for her personal safety. Efforts to revive any NLD party activities have been balked, and its members have been jailed and physically attacked. In the first months after detention was ended, she was able to speak to large gatherings of supporters outside her home, but this was stopped. Yet her popularity in the country has not diminished.
Internationally her voice has been heard not infrequently. Reporters with cameras and videotape have been able to interview her in person, and telephone interviews with the media outside Burma have also been published. Using video cassettes she has sent out statements, including the keynote address to the NGO Forum at the U.N. International Women’s Conference in Beijing in August 1995.
There have been a number of visitors from abroad, including a member of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, whom she told that Norway will be the first country she will visit when free to travel. SLORC has changed its name to the State Peace and Development Council, but its repressive policies and violation of human rights continue unabated.
Suu Kyi discourages tourists from visiting Burma and businessmen from investing in the country until it is free. She finds hearing for such pleas among western nations, and the United States has applied economic sanctions against Burma, but Burma’s neighbours follow their policy of not intervening in the internal affairs of other sovereign states, and Burma has been admitted into the Association of South Eastern Asian Nations.
On March 27, 1999, Michael Aris died of prostate cancer in London. He had petitioned the Burmese authorities to allow him to visit Suu Kyi one last time, but they had rejected his request. He had not seen her since a Christmas visit in 1995. The government always urged her to join her family abroad, but she knew that she would not be allowed to return. This separation she regarded as one of the sacrifices she had had to make in order to work for a free Burma.”