AUNG SAN SUU KYI
Aung San Suu Kyi is a contemporary leader of the country Myanmar, previously known as Burma. She is an activist and a freedom fighter against the military dictatorship in Myanmar and has been involved in Burmese politics since 1988. As a pro-democracy campaigner and leader of the opposition National League for Democracy party (NLD), she has spent more than 11 of the past 18 years in some form of detention under Burma's military regime. She has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her persistent endeavors in 1991. For Burmese public, she is the biggest symbol of hope that one day they will be free from the clutches of dictatorship.
The purpose of this paper is to examine the situation in which the leadership of Aung San Suu Kyi emerged and the elements that constitute it. Aspects of her leadership can be compared to those of Mahatma Gandhi and Joan of Arc.
Her name is pronounced differently than it is spelled. ‘Aung’ is pronounced ‘Ong’. ‘San’ is pronounced as ‘Saan’, with an extended ‘a’ sound, while the two ‘u’s in ‘Suu’ are abruptly reduced to one. Finally ‘Kyi’ is pronounced as ‘Chee’. This name has been derived from those of three relatives. ‘Aung San’ from father, ‘San’ from grandmother and ‘Kyi has been taken from mother’s name. She is now respectfully given the title of ‘Daw’, which is a respectful term in Burma for older women.
To understand the leadership of Aung San Suu Kyi, it is essential to understand the background of the present-day Myanmar, in which her leadership arose.
Under Colnial Rule
Burma was a complete monarchy till the British first took interest in it in the year 1824. The consequence was three successive Anglo Burmese wars, by the end of which, Burma came under complete rule of the British in 1885. In 1886, the British made all of Burma a province of India with Rangoon as its capital. The ancient culture of Burma was greatly tampered with when the British tried to impose foreign values on the natives. This enforcement of British traditions frequently created rifts between the British and the natives.
The British implemented their policy of divide and rule in the Burmese system by favoring some ethnic minorities over others. During 1920s the first protests against the British initiated, followed by active strikes by the Students Union of the Rangoon University. From here began the movement for national independence. Aung San, the executive-committee member and the magazine editor of the Students Union, emerged at the forefront of this movement and organized major strikes against the British.
Independence and Democracy
It was around the same time that the Second World War broke out and Aung San grabbed this opportunity to ally with the Japanese against the British. He travelled to Japan, gained formal military training and helped Japan invade Burma against the British. The Japanese had promised that if he helped them to defeat British, Burma would be freed. However, the Japanese did not fulfill their promise. Now, Aung San sided with the British and helped them defeat the Japanese by July 1945. In January 1947, he succeeded in negotiating an agreement with the British that Burma would be granted independence from Britain.
Earlier, in 1942 when Aung San was still on the Japanese side, he was hospitalized in the Rangoon General Hospital due to the rigors of march into Burma. There he met a senior nurse called Ma Khin Kyi. They fell in love and got married on September 6, 1942. About three years later, on June 19, 1945 their daughter Aung San Suu Kyi was born in Rangoon, the third child in the family. This child was later to become one of the greatest leaders Burma and the rest of the world has ever seen.
After procuring the promise of independence from the British, Aung San started working on drafting a constitution for a soon would-be independent Burma. Since Burma houses several ethnic minorities, he also made a point to meet regularly with ethnic leaders in order to maintain peace and unity among the Burmese. In fact, he formulated a treaty with the ethnic minorities that they would ‘remain aligned with the Burmese provisional government and defer any change in their status until about a decade after independence’12 . But tragedy was to ensue. On July 19, 1947-six months before the coming of independence- Aung San, only 32, along with seven of the prime nationalist leaders of the country were shot to death by men of a jealous political rival, prewar premier U Saw. Aung San never saw his country become independent as the Union of Burma on January 4, 1948.
After the demise of Aung San, a member of his cabinet, U Nu was delegated to fill in the suddenly vacant position of the national leader. U Nu was a great and exceptional leader but he did not have the organizational skills of Aung San. The democratic rule of U Nu was continuously challenged by communist and ethnic groups, which felt underrepresented. There were periods of intense civil war and the economy sank. In 1958, when the ten year opportunity appeared for some of the ethnic minorities to secede from Burma, the military carried out a coup d’etat, overthrowing U Nu.
LIFE OF AUNG SAN SUU KYI
Meanwhile in the absence of a father, Aung San Suu Kyi grew up with her mother and two brothers, Aung San Lin and Aung San Oo in Yangon. Her favorite brother Aung San Lin drowned in a pool accident when she was eight, while her older brother migrated to San Diego, California becoming a United States Citizen. Her mother Daw Khin gained prominence as a political figure in the newly-formed Burmese government. She was appointed Burmese ambassador to India in 1960 and she moved to New Delhi along with Aung San. Simultaneously in Burma, another coup d’etat took place and the country came under the dictatorship of General Ne Win.
In India, Aung San went to high-school and later graduated from Lady Shri Ram College in Delhi in 1964. She then travelled to Oxford, England for furthering her education, where she attended St. Hugh’s College, an all-women college of Oxford University, in the mid 1960’s. From St. Hugh’s she majored in Philosophy, Politics and Economics. After she had been pursuing that major for a while, she decided to change it to literature, which was a burgeoning passion of hers. However, the university authorities did not allow her to do so and she had to continue in the same specialty.
After receiving her undergraduate degree, Aung San Suu Kyi went to New York for her graduate studies. In New York, she stayed with a family friend Ma Than E, who was a staff member at the United Nations, where incidentally U. Thant of Burma was the Secretary-General. While she was in New York, Aung San decided that she wanted to postpone further studies and join the UN. To this end, she joined the UN Secretariat as Assistant Secretary of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions15.
In 1972, she worked as the Research Officer at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bhutan and there she joined her college friend and future husband Michael Aris who was a British scholar. They had been corresponding frequently while she was in New York and he was in Bhutan. They married in 1972 and in 1973 Aung San Suu Kyi gave birth to their first son, Alexander in London.
For the next period of about 10-15 years or so, Suu Kyi remained occupied in looking after and assisting her husband and sons and at the same time, travelling to gain more education. In 1974, Michael Aris assumed appointment in Tibetan and Himalayan studies at Oxford University. In 1977, Aung San Suu Kyi gave birth to their second son, Kim, in Oxford. While Aung San Suu Kyi was engaged in looking after and raising her family, she simultaneously began to pursue her personal interest in literature. During this time, she started writing and researching for the purpose of writing a biography of her father and at the same time, assisted her husband in Himalayan studies. In the beginning of their marriage, she had told her husband Michael that there might come a time when she would be called upon to serve her people. In her own words (while describing this event):
“I [Aung San Suu Kyi] just said, ‘I am Burmese and there may come a time when I have to go back to Burma and when that time comes, I would expect you to be understanding and sympathetic,’ and he [Michael] said, ‘yes.’ It was a very simple- not a big negotiation process at all…”
In 1984, Aung San Suu Kyi published Aung San, a biography of her father in ‘Leaders of Asia’ series of University of Queensland Press. Moreover, for juvenile readers, she published Let’s Visit Burma and books on Nepal and Bhutan in the same series in 1985 for Burke Publishing Company, London. Between the years 1985 and 1986, she studied as a visiting scholar in the Center of Southeast Asian Studies at Kyoto University, researching on her father’s time in Japan. Her younger son accompanied her during this time while the older one stayed with her husband, who had a fellowship at Indian Institute of Advanced Studies at Simla in northern India. In the next year 1987, she was granted a fellowship at the same Institute and the whole family reunited there. After completion of her fellowship, in the September of the same year, the family returned to Oxford where Suu Kyi enrolled at London School of Oriental and African Studies to work on an advanced degree.
BURMA UNDER A DICTATORSHIP
Soon after, at the end of March 1988, Suu Kyi received a phone message in Oxford that her mother had suffered a severe stroke. She immediately took a plane the next day to help care for Daw Khin Kyi at hospital and then moved her to the family home on University Avenue near Inya Lake in Rangoon when it was clear that no purpose was being served by keeping her at hospital. The Burma that she returned to was tremendously different than the one she left as a small girl, all because of General Ne Win’s policies. Ever since his first military coup in 1958, General Ne Win had employed various methods to stay in power. For the first 12 years of his dictatorship, he remained the Chairman of the Revolutionary Council. Then for another seven years, he acted as the President of the Socialist Republic Union of Burma. For the remainder of his political career, he occupied the office of Chairman of the Burma Socialist Programme Party (BSPP).
Ne Win had tried to run Burma along the lines of a self-created program called the Burmese Way to Socialism Program. Because of the policies of this program, Burma had landed into economic decline, falling production, rising prices, widespread corruption, black-marketeering and poverty. He had also suppressed the right to secession of some ethnic minorities as was guaranteed by Aung San and the constitution.
THE PEOPLE’S DEMANDS ARE MET WITH BULLETS
During the year Aung San Suu Kyi returned, popular protests were being carried out throughout Burma to demand restoration of democracy and the end of the suppressive military dictatorship. The government responded to these protests through violence, killing or wounding thousands of protestors. Seeing this opposition, General Ne Win announced that he was going to resign and this gave rise to the possibility that the country could return to civilian political control. On July 23, 1988 General Ne Win resigned, warning that “when the army shoots, it shoots straight.” The country was thrown into mass uprising. Seeing this as their chance to demand for their rights, on August 8, 1988, also known as the ‘8888’ hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets, calling for democracy. The students and monks along with the general public were euphoric and the streets echoed with their slogans for democracy. “The streets resounded with the chant (in Burmese)
'We [the people] want full democracy; that's what we want’.”
Seeing their fellow nationals fighting for democracy, more Burmese joined in; government workers, Buddhist monks, Burma Navy, Air Force and Customs officers, teachers and hospital staff. In response to this, the military government imposed martial law, giving absolute power to the commander-in-chief General Saw Maung, in order to repress the demonstrations and went so far as to open fire on the people. General Ne Win is known to have said that, “guns were not to shoot upwards,”21 meaning that the military shot the guns straight at the public. The consequence is a story of great human loss. About 3000 to 10,000 leaders and grassroots activists were killed within days and tens of thousands rounded up and imprisoned for years.
A LEADER EMERGES
Amidst all this, Aung San Suu Kyi felt that her country needed her. So on August 26, she gave her first public speech outside Shwedagon Pagoda, where several thousand people turned up just to listen to the daughter of one of their greatest heroes Aung San. This speech later became known as the ‘Freedom from Fear’ speech, in which Aung San Suu Kyi urged the people to leave behind their fear and rise above the human limitations in order to stand up for their rights:
“Don’t just depend on the courage and intrepidity of others. Each and every one of you must make sacrifices to become a hero possessed of courage and intrepidity. Then only shall we be able to enjoy true freedom.”
From thereon, she became the face of the struggle for democracy in Burma. About a week earlier from that day, Aung San Suu Kyi had sent in an open letter to the government asking for the formation of consultative committee to prepare free multi-party elections.
The regime declared a State of emergency on September 18, 1988. The military leaders who had taken after Ne Win’s resignation were counting on Burmese politics devolving into a squabbling among many political parties, as had happened in the past. They thought the anti-military government vote would be so divided that the military sponsored party would emerge as the party that would form the government in the parliament. In other words, the multiplicity of parties will prevent clear result in elections. When the military feared that would not happen, a clique of army officers loyal to Ne Win staged a coup in late September which created a government of the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC).
Following this, political gatherings of more than four persons were banned. Arrests and sentencing without trials were reaffirmed. In this way, the military again crushed the protests in favor of democratic rule. It was as a consequence of this, that the National League for Democracy (NLD) was formed on September 24 with Aung San Suu Kyi as the general secretary. It was hoped that under her leadership and fair elections, Burma would see the restoration of democracy. The military government saw her as an activist who was further poisoning the minds of the people against the military junta. Consequently she was banned from making public speeches. Despite the ban, Aung San Suu Kyi travelled all around Burma giving speeches in an effort to motivate people to rise against the cruel military regime and call for democracy. At the end of the year, her mother died and in a few days, her funeral procession was joined by a huge crowd, turning it into a peaceful protest against despotisms. At this point, Aung San Suu Kyi vowed that as her mother and father had served Burma, so would she-until death. In her own words:
“I vow to stay in my motherland and work unceasingly with all nationalities in accordance with the guidelines laid down by my father to maintain the sovereignty of our country, to bring development to all nationalities and to establish democracy.”
From there on, it has been an epic battle between her and the military regime, both fighting for two opposite causes.
During whole of 1989, Aung San Suu Kyi continued to campaign despite harassment and arrests. Her methodology to counter this kind of behavior was resistance but through non-violent means. Her preaching to her followers was to hold their ground but not through the use of guns and violence. In an interview she said:
“Non-Violence approach is about the most difficult approach of the world, especially nowadays people get more and more dependent in order to get what they want…We are convinced that in the long run it pays off, even if the run is actually longer because it is the non-violent approach…We find that there is a vast difference in the attitude of a man with a gun in his hand and that of one without a gun in his hand. When a man doesn’t have a gun in his hand or a woman for that matter, he or she tries harder to use his or her mind, a sense of compassion and intelligence to work out a solution. But if you put a gun in a person’s hand, the gun is always there to use, so the urge to depend more on the intellectual considerations, the urge to exercise one’s intelligence and compassion more becomes that much less. So we think that the non-violent approach is the best for our country. We want to cut this vicious cycle…of people trying to change the political scene through power of the gun.”
She continued to make speech-giving tours in several cities even when the government declared her ineligible to run in the impending 1990 elections. Such was her commitment to her people and the nation that she risked her life many times just to spread her message across. Once, she encountered an army unit which was ordered to aim their rifles at her while she was campaigning in the Irrawaddy Delta. During the campaign, she bravely challenged the army to attack her and continued to walk towards the men who had pointed their guns pointed at her. Eventually an officer intervened, changed the orders and prevented Aung San Suu Kyi’s assassination.
It was obvious to the military regime, which had seized the power from the people in the form of SLORC that Aung San Suu Kyi was rallying people and adding to the antagonism to the government. Therefore, in the July of 1989, she was placed under house arrest in Rangoon under martial law that allowed for detention without charge or trial for three years. Thousands of NLD members were rounded up and thrown in jail. Despite the absence of Aung San Suu Kyi and other NLD leaders from the forefront, the 1990 elections proved that the nation wanted to see democracy. In the elections, NLD secured a staggering majority of 80.82% seats as opposed to 2.06% seats of the major opposing party NUP. Being the NLD’s candidate, under normal conditions, Aung San Suu Kyi would have been elected the Prime Minister of Burma. However, SLORC nullified the results and refused to hand over power and continued to rule. In the same year, she was awarded the Rafto Human Rights Prize and in the following year, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her endeavors.
The NLD continued to be oppressed by the military regime. The leaders and specifically Aung San Suu Kyi suffered many hardships on the hands of the government but her commitment never wavered. It was in the same year as the general elections, that her husband Michael Aris was diagnosed with prostate cancer. After his final visit in 1995, the Burmese government denied him any further entry visas. The government, however, gave Aung San Suu Kyi full freedom to leave the country to visit her family in UK. But it was made clear to her that if she left the country, she would not be allowed to return. She decided not to go. In March 1995, Michael Aris died.
In July 1995, Aung San Suu Kyi was released from house arrest. Her movement and freedom of expression were still restricted and soon enough, she was placed under another house arrest in September 2000 for another two years. However in May 2002, she was released following ‘confidence-building’ negotiations between the government and the United Nations. At that occasion, a government spokesman said that “she was free to move because [they were] confident that [they] could trust each other.” Following her release, Aung San Suu Kyi proclaimed a “new dawn for the country27.” While she resumed her struggle for democracy, the dictatorship intensified its efforts to discourage her, to the extent that a government-sponsored mob attacked her caravan near the village of Depayin in May 2003. According to Toe Lwin, a staunch supporter of NLD and an eye-witness of the incident:
“My duty was to protect Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. I was standing beside her car for security. The attackers moved towards Daw Suu’s car and soon there were around thirty of them surrounding us…suddenly they started to hit Daw Suu’s car. First I tried to cover it. Then they started to beat me. They hit my head three times and I collapsed. Daw Suu’s driver finally sped away and escaped.”
At least 50 people were killed in this attack and many more injured. Aung San Suu Kyi managed to flee with her driver but they were unable to make it very far and were captured. She was arrested and placed in Insein Prison in Yangon, eventually transferred to her house in a house arrest, where she remains solitary, separated from her family up to this day. On October 25, 2008 Aung San Suu Kyi completed thirteen years of house arrest and as to how many more she has to complete, only time can tell.
There is absolutely no doubt that Aung San Suu Kyi is one of the greatest and most dedicated leaders that the world has ever seen. In a country which has been ruled by the barbaric military junta for decades, she has been the ray of hope and will continue to be the voice of the reason against arbitrary force.
Aung San Suu Kyi’s father was assassinated when she was merely two years old. Although she barely knew her father, he continued to be a guiding force and an inspiration in her struggle. For her it seems, that politics and her destiny are intertwined. Her father sacrificed his life for his beliefs and the nation and because she was born at a particular time in a particular family, she was met with the same kind of responsibility.
Aung San Suu Kyi is a leader who is born out of a situation. She was living and working abroad till 1988. It was her mother’s illness that suddenly drew her to Burma and it just happened that the country was going through intense political turmoil at that time. In this particular situation full of disequlibrium, the need for a leader to stand against the tyrannical military junta emerged. She herself felt the duty to continue the mission of her father and therefore, she came to the forefront of Burmese politics.
IMPORTANCE OF GENDER
It is to be recognized that Aung San Suu Kyi is a female leader in a patriarchal society. This signifies two things:
Significance of Women:
Aung San Suu Kyi is just another example of the fact that women have as much capability of becoming effective leaders as any other man. It is ironic, remarkable and applaudable that in a highly patriarchal society such as that of Burma, a woman has risen to the status of saint.
Sacrificial Nature of her Duty:
It is because Aung San Suu Kyi is a woman that she has had to bear so much loss and make much sacrifice. According to Haleh Afshar,
“Very often politics makes impossible demands of women and frequently those demands mean choosing between your family and the cause you're fighting for. Men never have to make that choice… and sometimes as in this case the choice is an impossible one in the sense that if the children stay with Aung San Aung San Suu Kyi, they will be actually in danger.”
So there was no way that Aung San Aung San Suu Kyi could keep her children and her resistance. She actually had to accept the parting and that is extremely difficult and takes the kind of commitment and the kind of vision that very few women can allow themselves to have.
GANDHIAN TENDENCY: USE OF NON-VIOLENT MEANS
In Aung San Suu Kyi’s persistent teaching of resistance through non-violent means, history is seen to repeat itself. This aspect of her leadership can be compared with that of Mahatma Gandhi’s.
Today, just as Aung San Suu Kyi is holding firm to her ground against the military junta, years ago Gandhi stood his ground against the British. Gandhi was the exemplification of the conflict between the Indians and the British. The way he took to resolve this conflict was civil disobedience through non-violent means. Elements of Gandhi’s philosophy were rooted in the Indian religions of Jainism and Buddhism. Both of these advocate ahimsa, which is “absence of the desire to kill or harm”. The Acaranga Sutra, A Jainist text, describes the fundamental need for non-violence:
All beings are fond of life; they like pleasure and hate pain, shun destruction and like to live, they long to live. To all, life is dear” (Chapple 11)34.
Ahimsa is a way of living and thinking which respects this deeply. This is exactly what Gandhi picked up and used effectively in eventually ousting the British from India. Just as he used this concept from Jainism, Aung San Suu Kyi is employing the same idea from Buddhism today, for the struggle towards democracy in her country.
However, in all objectiveness, it needs to be analyzed whether her strategy of ahimsa is proving effective or not. It is without doubt that she deserves credit for guarding her principles and her commitment to her cause is commendable. But she hasn’t managed to change the course of her country’s politics yet35. Even though she has employed more or less the same principles as Mahatma Gandhi or MLK Jr., she has attracted much less attention in comparison. At this point, one wonders whether she needs to resort to a more proactive approach for quicker results.
THE ‘SAINT JOAN’ OF BURMA: UNWAVERING COMMITMENT
Aung San Suu Kyi has been fighting her struggle for democracy for over two decades and has been persecuted ceaselessly for her beliefs. Despite this continous resistance from the government, she has never wavered from her mission. There were instances in which she came face to face with death, such as the Depayin Massacre and the encounter with the armed units during a campaign in Irrawaddy Valley. Such instances are enough to scare the strongest of individuals, yet she has never showed any signs of weakness of her commitment to the cause.
For this same cause, she has made many sacrifices. For example, she has sacrificed the comfort of a family to bring freedom to her people. To the same end, she did not leave the country to visit her dying husband whom she deeply loved. Even though she was given the choice to do so, she never left with the fear that she would not be allowed to return to the land she was fighting for.
In this unwavering commitment, Aung San Suu Kyi resembles Joan of Arc, who stuck to her principles and beliefs and suffered being burnt at the stake. Joan of Arc is a national heroine of France, who had led the French Army to several important victories, claiming divine guidance and was eventually punished by the church under the crime of witchcraft and heresy (because she claimed divine guidance). However, she was later beatified and canonized. While Saint Joan was being tried by an ecclesiastical court, she was given the choice to say that she was not receiving any divine guidance and be set free. Saint Joan did not deny it and chose to sacrifice her life rather than deny the truth.
Similarly, Aung San Suu Kyi was also given a choice. In her own words,
“They gave me a choice, I could leave Burma or I could stay and stay under house arrest, and I decided I wouldn’t leave.”
Such is her commitment and dedication to her nation that she is willing to sacrifice her own freedom for the attainment of that of her people. It is a sacrifice that can be essentially compared to that of Saint Joan.
The human rights group ‘Amnesty International’ has coined a term ‘Prisoner of Conscience’. Prisoner of conscience can refer to anyone imprisoned because of their race, religion, color, language, sexual orientation, belief or lifestyle so long as they have not used or advocated violence.
Today, Aung San Suu Kyi who is under house arrest is the most popular prisoner of Conscience in Burma. She has international support advocating for her freedom but how long she has to go before she can be free and be able to change the condition of her country, only time can tell.
Aung San Suu Kyi is without doubt, one of the most dedicated leaders that this world is fortunate to have. It is her compassion, empathy and the dedication to her people that has enabled her to gain informal authority in Burma. . It is her persistence that has not only brought her to worldwide attention, but closer to the hearts of the people as well. It is her sacrifice of her own comfort and freedom that has placed her on such high a pedestal that Burmese revere her as a saint and this will be her legacy to the world.
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 The then rulers of the neighboring India.
 The Burmese had launched an invasion on India. Britain responded by declaring war on Burma (5 March 1824), and preparing a 5,000 strong expeditionary force under Major General Sir Archibald Campbell, which on 10 May 1824 occupied Rangoon without difficulty.
 Present day Yangon.
 In 1941, Aung San travelled to Japan for military training. 29 young men joined him in his mission. Together, these zealots became known as ‘The Thirty Comrades’.
 Refers to Aung San’s march with the Japanese army.
 www.Nobelprize.org Bio Details. Quote: 1942: September 6. Marriage of Aung San, commander of the Burma Independence Army and Ma Khin Kyi (becoming Daw Khin Kyi), senior nurse of Rangoon General Hospital, where he has recovered from the rigors of the march into Burma.
 www.Nobelprize.org Bio Details. Quote: 1945: June 19. Aung San Suu Kyi born in Rangoon, third child in family. "Aung San" for father, "Kyi" for mother, "Suu" for grandmother, also day of week of birth.
Favourite brother is to drown tragically at an early age. The older brother, will settle in San Diego, California, becoming United States citizen.
9www.sjsu.edu Aung San, as the governor of the Union of Burma, reflected the role of ethnic minorities in the country. Preparation were underway for the drafting of a new constitution. But all the hopes and promises of the new government were destroyed on July 19, 1947. While an unguarded meeting of the Executive Council was underway a group of uniformed men with submachine guns burst into the room and gunned down seven of the members of the Council. The gunmen were traced back to the house of U Saw, the former prime minister and political rival of Aung San. Saw believed that with Aung San out of the picture the British would choose him to lead the new Union of Burma. Instead, Saw and his henchmen were arrested, tried and executed.
10 www.notablebiographies.com Burmese Political Leader: Aung San Suu Kyi biography
 U Nu of Burma by Richard Butwell: Dr. Baw Maw, the political leader of Burma from 1937 to 1939 under the British and from 1943 to 1945 during the Japanese occupation, recalled U Nu as a ‘dreamer- not a worker’.
 Previously known as Rangoon.
 In Burma, A Respectful title used for older ladies.
 Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s pages: Icon of Hope , Burma- A Cry for Freedom written by John Pilger, a journalist for “The New Internationalist,” who interviewed Suu Kyi from her Rangoon Home on 23rd May 2003. The quoted words in the text are a response to when Pilger asked Suu Kyi to talk about her husband, who had written very movingly of her commitment to Burma.
 Military Junta: the name of the military government in Burma.
 National Unity Party, the successor to the Burma Socialist Programme Party (BSSP), which dominated the political life in the one-party state of General Ne Win.
 Today in general public, Aung San Suu Kyi is seen as someone close to being saint, who is the symbol of unity and strength against arbitrary military junta.
 Divine guidance meant a person could communicate with God, which according to the Church was blasphemy.