At-a-glance: Who is Aung San Suu Kyi?

Posted on: February 4th, 2019 by
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Nature and nurture likely both saw Aung San Suu Kyi become a figurehead for the Burmese people’s struggle against military dictatorship.


For while the junta has long provided a rallying point for the 68-year old, her father, Aung San, was commander of the Burma Independence Army in its fight against the Japanese.

With Aung San’s marriage to a senior nurse at Rangoon hospital, Ma Khin Kyi, Aung San Suu Kyi followed two boys into the world. One of her brothers died at a young age, the other now lives in California.

In 1960, Suu Kyi’s mother became Ambassador to India. Suu Kyi went with her to study at high school and college in Delhi. She went on to study at England’s Oxford university, while staying with former British ambassador to Burma and High Commissioner to India Lord Gore-Booth. She also met her future husband, student of Tibetan culture Michael Aris, at his house, according to the Nobel foundation.

When Aris dies in the late 90s, the military junta prevented the pair from visiting each other.


After time living and working in New York, Bhutan and India, and having children in the UK, Suu Kyi returned to Burma in March 1988 to visit her sick mother, who suffered a severe stroke.

In July of the same year, General Ne Win, who had ruled since 1962, stepped down, and popular demonstrations filled the streets.

In August she entered the political fray in earnest following the massacre of what was thought to be thousands of protesting people, when she deliveed a speech to 500,000 people.

But in September, the State Law and Order Restoration Council comes into being. Gatherings of more than four people are banned. Later in the year, her National League for Democracy is formed, with a policy of non-violence and disobedience.

In 1989, Suu Kyi is prohibited from standing for election, and is placed under house arrest

Despite this, the NLD wins 82 per cent of the popular vote, but the results are not recognised.

Her most recent sentence was extended for 18 months when an American supporter swam across the lake to her house to visit her – reportedly unannounced. For her most recent period of house arrest, her maids, mother and daughter Khin Khin Win and Win Ma Ma, were sentenced along with her, the Guardian reports.

Suu Kyi has not seen her two sons in over a decade, and has never met her grandchildren.

They reportedly apply for visas to visit Burma each year, to no avail, although last week her youngest son was granted permission to enter the country, the Guardian reports.

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