Aung San Suu Kyi is an iconic figure of the resistance against Burma’s military dictatorship, but it was almost by accident that she came to lead the opposition in the 1980s.
Educated in India, then in the United Kingdom, the married mother of two returned to Burma in 1988 to look after her sick mother. That same year, the army violently crushed anti-government demonstrations. Thousands were killed.
A few months later, Suu Kyi — known as the Lady of Rangoon — helped form the National League for Democracy. The party won the 1990 general election by a landslide, but the vote was annulled by the ruling generals. Suu Kyi was placed under house arrest for the next five years. But when she came out, her determination was as resolute as ever.
She has sacrificed everything — her health, her liberty and her family — to her political combat.
As her husband was dying of cancer in England, she chose to stay in Burma for fear that she would not be allowed back into the country. But this follower of Gandhi and supporter of non-violence refuses to wallow in self-pity. She uses her rare moments of liberty to speak out against the military junta and promote democracy.
Despite high-profile support from around the world, her situation has yet to improve. For the military dictatorship, the Lady of Rangoon is a threat — and any excuse to keep her in detention will do. The latest pretext accuses her of violating the conditions of her house arrest.