The Bravest Woman in the World; Aung San Suu Kyi

It is not enough merely to call for freedom, democracy and human rights. There has to be a united determination to persevere in the struggle; to make sacrifices in the name of enduring truths; to resist the corrupting influences of desire, ill will, ignorance and fear.”Aung San Suu Kyi from her 1991 book, Freedom From Fear

I have to admit to a weakness for strong women. I admired Margaret Thatcher, and rather like Condoleezza Rice, and who could forget Boudicca (no ‘lefties’ though- sorry Hilary your not on my list) but when it comes to the crunch Aung San Suu Kyi leaves them for dead.

This girl stares down the barrels of loaded and cocked rifles for a living.

 This is taken from Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s pages. (Daw is an honorific similar to madam for older, revered women, literally meaning “aunt”).

Like the South African leader Nelson Mandela before her, Aung San Suu Kyi, has come to be seen internationally as a symbol of heroic and peaceful resistance in the face of oppression.

For the Burmese people, Aung San Suu Kyi represents their best and perhaps sole hope that one day there will be an end to the country’s military repression.

She was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1991, by which time she had been under house arrest for two out of what was to become six years.

Her sons went to Oslo to accept the award on her behalf. At the presentation, the Chairman of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee, Francis Sejested, called her “an outstanding example of the power of the powerless”.

“Aung San Suu Kyi cannot be silenced because she speaks the truth,” he said.

Aung San Suu Kyi was born in Burma in 1945, the daughter of Gen. Aung San a hero of the independence movement who was assassinated in 1947 just before independence was achieved.

Suu Kyi studied philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford. Several years later, she moved to New York, where she did graduate studies, worked with the United Nations and volunteered at a hospital. She married Michael Aris, a Himalayan scholar she met in Oxford. He promised Suu Kyi that he would not get in the her way if her duty to Burma called her back.

She returned to Burma in 1988 to care for her critically ill mother just as the democracy movement rose to the fore, and given her background joined it. “I could not, as my father’s daughter, remain indifferent to all that was going on,” Suu Kyi said in a speech in Rangoon on 26 August 1988.

In 1990 democratic elections were held and her party, the National League for Democracy won in a landslide taking 80% of the seats. The military however refused to recognize the result and brutally repressed the party and has since run the country as a military dictatorship.

Suu Kyi has since this spent most of her time under arrest of one kind or another apart from odd occasions where she has been released, probably because of international pressure. On one of these releases in 1993 an attempt was made by the military to murder her when her convoy was ambushed and many of her supporters were killed.

She escaped only because of the courage of her driver but was arrested again shortly afterward.

In 1991, she received the Nobel Peace Prize.

Her political ideals are reflected in the “Manifesto of the National League for Democracy. It shows a considerable understanding of individual freedom, along with strong support for real human rights, but her economic policies seem to come mainly from a statist viewpoint, probably because of her Oxford background.

 I doubt that a stronger, more courageous woman has ever existed and not many men could match her. This woman deserves all of the support the world community can give her.

 Its probably time for the ‘Mongrel Legion’, as well as the ‘Allied Democracies Group’ (good Guys) to take a hand in this.


18 thoughts on “The Bravest Woman in the World; Aung San Suu Kyi

  1. Sorry fellas I’m Having some sort of drama with formatting. When I hit the ‘post button’ it looses all below the ‘more’ line, so I am not game to go over it again.

  2. Sorry, Brendan, than one dictatorship would be fighting another. This is the only way, the long, hard, difficult way, until enough international pressure is brought to bear through UN, China, and others in the region. Peace and non violence will outlive the generals and the guns.

  3. Darvish,

    Different strokes for different folks. Britain never had full military control of India, many regions were only held tenuously to the Raj. Britain’s exit was both confused and bloody, but voluntary. To compare a domestic dictatorship to a foreign occupation is apples and oranges.

    As for the civil rights movement, didn’t the movement in the 1960s build from the violence of the 1860s? African Americans were Americans, albeit from a minority racial group. The movement wasn’t about independence, but the enforcement of civil law.

    Armed revolution may not be the best solution for all situations, and would definitely not be the solution in a relatively liberal democracy like the US in the 1960s or against a tired and worn out colonial power like Britain in the 1940s.

    However, a brutal and repressive regime like the Burmese junta, violence may well be the right path, especially if it can be led by a democratic voice like Aung San Suu Kyi.

  4. The monks, being monks, can not take a life — it is the first of the 10 vows they take on ordination.

  5. That’s a pity. If they’re not prepared to defend their lives, they make it just that much easier for tyrants.

  6. This is a gem I found in MSNBC.

    In one of history’s more absurd acts of totalitarianism, China has banned Buddhist monks in Tibet from reincarnating without government permission. According to a statement issued by the State Administration for Religious Affairs, the law, which goes into effect next month and strictly stipulates the procedures by which one is to reincarnate, is “an important move to institutionalize management of reincarnation.”

    Perhaps the government could use it to solve the suicide problem by preventing people from ascending to heaven without permission.

  7. I wish our government would spend more time on laws governing the afterlife rather than things that might actually affect us.

  8. Brendan: However, a brutal and repressive regime like the Burmese junta, violence may well be the right path, especially if it can be led by a democratic voice like Aung San Suu Kyi.

    Trinifar: The monks, being monks, can not take a life — it is the first of the 10 vows they take on ordination.

    Brendan: That’s a pity. If they’re not prepared to defend their lives, they make it just that much easier for tyrants.

    I think it’s important to note that the power the monks have, the power that Suu Kyi has, comes from their way of life and the vows they choose to live by. That’s the reason they have the support of the general population. If they were to take up arms they’d just be another rebel group and with little to offer that’s different than the current junta.

  9. Trinifar;
    The same thought has come to me for a while, I think the influence of both groups exists, not because of who they are , but what they are.

    Buddhists tend to be a peaceful people, I cant think of any major wars started by them, there would be a great deal of difference between the Buddhist reaction to the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas, and what would happen if the boot was on the other foot.

    When I did the post I was wanting to use a different quote that I had seen before but couldn’t find it, tonight I got lucky: –

    “It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it. Most Burmese are familiar with the four a-gati, the four kinds of corruption.

    Chanda-gati, corruption induced by desire, is deviation from the right path in pursuit of bribes or for the sake of those one loves.

    Dosa-gati is taking the wrong path to spite those against whom one bears ill will, and moga-gati is aberration due to ignorance.

    But perhaps the worst of the four is bhaya-gati, for not only does bhaya, fear, stifle and slowly destroy all sense of right and wrong, it so often lies at the root of the other three kinds of corruption. Just as chanda-gati, when not the result of sheer avarice, can be caused by fear of want or fear of losing the goodwill of those one loves, so fear of being surpassed, humiliated or injured in some way can provide the impetus for ill will.”

    What a woman !!!

  10. Trinifar;
    On reflection over a glass of port and a reasonable cigar on the verandah looking out at the stars, a thought occurred to me.

    People like Suu Kyi force others to look into their inner selves and see the qualities that they lack and in this case shall never have, humanity, humility, decency, compassion, loyalty, love, and so on. A person of intellect would look into themselves for a second time and try to acquire those qualities, but weaker persons such as the junta can only envy hate and despise as weakness those qualities.

  11. I got this from Closet Republican;

    WARNING: Please be aware, that according to Sophos (a leading anti-virus company) an email purporting to be from the Dalai Lama, supporting the pro-democracy efforts in Burma, is actually a malicious Trojan virus. Do not open, for any reason!!

    The email contains the following text:

    Dear Friends & Colleagues,

    Please find enclosed a massage from His Holiness the Dalai Lama in support of the recent pro-democracy demonstrations taking place in Burma. This is for your information and can be distributed as you see fit.

    Best wishes.

    Tenzin Taklha Joint
    Secretary Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama

    It is most likely to affect those who post on the subject of Burma so I wont include the rest of the text, those who wish to follow up should use the above link.

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