Aung San Suu Kyi (b. 1942) is a Burmese political opposition leader affiliated with the National League for Democracy (NLD). She is the daughter of Burmese independence hero Aung San, and Daw Khin Kyi, later Myanmar’s ambassador to India. She was the recipient of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize.
After schooling in India and England, she moved to New York to work for the UN. She married a British scholar of Himalayan studies, Michael Aris, and raised two sons with him in England. In 1988, her mother fell ill and Aung San Suu Kyi returned to Myanmar. A few months later, popular unrest seized the country and Aung San Suu Kyi began to address the nation as a member of the NLD, an opposition party she helped found with two former generals. In 1989, the military government banned gatherings of more than four people; she defied this ban and toured the country, giving speeches outlining her vision of a democratic Myanmar.
After enduring months of harassment and confrontations with the military government, Aung San Suu Kyi was placed under house arrest in 1989. In 1990, the NLD won 82% of the seats in the Parliament, but the military government refused to recognize the results. She was under house arrest from 1989-1995 and again from 2000-2010. In April 2012 she won a seat in Parliament, and in June 2013 she expressed her intention to run for President of Myanmar when elections are held in 2015.
Recent violence against the Rohingya in 2013 and 2014 has raised delicate political questions for Suu Kyi, especially because this violence appears to be sanctioned by some prominent Buddhist monks. She has been criticized by rights groups for not speaking out enough on behalf of the Rohingya, and is criticized by some Burmese when she does. The Rohingya situation and constitutional restrictions that seem designed to prevent her presidency are the two major political challenges she faces with a possible presidential bid.
Nobel Prize. “Aung San Suu Kyi – Biographical Footnote.” Accessed July 10, 2013.
Reuters, “Myanmar Constitution likely to dash Suu Kyi’s presidential hopes.” Accessed July 10, 2013.
"Aung San Suu Kyi gives speech to supporters at Hlaing Thar Yar Township in Yangon, Myanmar on 17 November 2011," Htoo Tay Zar, on Wikimedia Commons.