Aung San Suu Kyi (; Burmese: အောင်ဆန်းစုကြည်; MLCTS: aung hcan: cu. krany[àʊɴ sʰáɴ sṵ tɕì]; born 19 June 1945) is a Burmese politician, diplomat, and author, and winner of a Nobel Peace Prize. She is the leader of the National League for Democracy and the first and incumbent State Counsellor, a position akin to a Prime Minister. She is also the first woman to serve as Minister for Foreign Affairs, for the President's Office, for Electric Power and Energy, and for Education. From 2012 to 2016 she was an MP for Kawhmu Township to the House of Representatives.
The youngest daughter of Aung San, Father of the Nation of modern-day Myanmar, and Khin Kyi, Aung San Suu Kyi was born in Rangoon, British Burma. After graduating from the University of Delhi in 1964 and the University of Oxford in 1968, she worked at the United Nations for three years. She married Michael Aris in 1972, and gave birth to two children. Aung San Suu Kyi rose to prominence in the 1988 Uprisings, and became the General Secretary of the National League for Democracy (NLD), which she had newly formed with the help of several retired army officials who criticized the military junta. In the 1990 elections, NLD won 81% of the seats in Parliament, but the results were nullified, as the military refused to hand over power, resulting in an international outcry. She had, however, already been detained under house arrest before the elections. She remained under house arrest for almost 15 of the 21 years from 1989 to 2010, becoming one of the world's most prominent political prisoners.
Her party boycotted the 2010 elections, resulting in a decisive victory for the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party. Aung San Suu Kyi became a Pyithu HluttawMP while her party won 43 of the 45 vacant seats in the 2012 by-elections. In the 2015 elections, her party won a landslide victory, taking 86% of the seats in the Assembly of the Union – well more than the 67 percent supermajority needed to ensure that its preferred candidates were elected President and Second Vice President in the Presidential Electoral College. Although she was prohibited from becoming the President due to a clause in the constitution – her late husband and children are foreign citizens – she assumed the newly created role of State Counsellor, a role akin to a Prime Minister or a head of government. Aung San Suu Kyi's honours include the Nobel Peace Prize, which she won in 1991.
Since ascending to the office of General Counsellor, Suu Kyi has drawn international criticism over her inaction to the persecution of the Rohingya people in Rakhine State.
Aung San Suu Kyi, like other Burmese names, includes no surname, but is only a personal name, in her case derived from three relatives: "Aung San" from her father, "Suu" from her paternal grandmother, and "Kyi" from her mother Khin Kyi.
The Burmese refer to her as Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Daw, literally meaning "aunt", is not part of her name but is an honorific for any older and revered woman, akin to "Madam". Burmese sometimes address her as Daw Suu or Amay Suu ("Mother Suu").
Aung San Suu Kyi was born on 19 June 1945 in Rangoon (now Yangon), British Burma. According to Peter Popham, she was born in a small village outside Rangoon called Hmway Saung. Her father, Aung San, founded the modern Burmese army and negotiated Burma's independence from the British Empire in 1947; he was assassinated by his rivals in the same year. She grew up with her mother, Khin Kyi, and two brothers, Aung San Lin and Aung San Oo, in Rangoon. Aung San Lin died at the age of eight, when he drowned in an ornamental lake on the grounds of the house. Her elder brother emigrated to San Diego, California, becoming a United States citizen. After Aung San Lin's death, the family moved to a house by Inya Lake where Aung San Suu Kyi met people of various backgrounds, political views and religions. She was educated in Methodist English High School (now Basic Education High School No. 1 Dagon) for much of her childhood in Burma, where she was noted as having a talent for learning languages. She speaks four languages: Burmese, English, French and Japanese. She is a Theravada Buddhist.
Suu Kyi's mother, Khin Kyi, gained prominence as a political figure in the newly formed Burmese government. She was appointed Burmese ambassador to India and Nepal in 1960, and Aung San Suu Kyi followed her there. She studied in the Convent of Jesus and Mary School in New Delhi, and graduated from Lady Shri Ram College, a constituent college of the University of Delhi in New Delhi, with a degree in politics in 1964. Suu Kyi continued her education at St Hugh's College, Oxford, obtaining a B.A. degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics in 1967, graduating with a third and M.A. degree in politics in 1968. After graduating, she lived in New York City with family friend Ma Than E, who was once a popular Burmese pop singer. She worked at the United Nations for three years, primarily on budget matters, writing daily to her future husband, Dr. Michael Aris. On 1 January 1972, Aung San Suu Kyi and Aris, a scholar of Tibetan culture and literature, living abroad in Bhutan, were married. The following year she gave birth to their first son, Alexander Aris, in London; their second son, Kim, was born in 1977. Between 1985 and 1987, Suu Kyi was working toward an M.Phil. degree in Burmese literature as a research student at SOAS, the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. She was elected as an Honorary Fellow of St Hugh's in 1990. For two years, she was a Fellow at the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies (IIAS) in Shimla, India. She also worked for the government of the Union of Burma.
In 1988, Suu Kyi returned to Burma, at first to tend for her ailing mother but later to lead the pro-democracy movement. Aris' visit in Christmas 1995 turned out to be the last time that he and Suu Kyi met, as Suu Kyi remained in Burma and the Burmese dictatorship denied him any further entry visas. Aris was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1997 which was later found to be terminal. Despite appeals from prominent figures and organizations, including the United States, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and Pope John Paul II, the Burmese government would not grant Aris a visa, saying that they did not have the facilities to care for him, and instead urged Aung San Suu Kyi to leave the country to visit him. She was at that time temporarily free from house arrest but was unwilling to depart, fearing that she would be refused re-entry if she left, as she did not trust the military junta's assurance that she could return.
Aris died on his 53rd birthday on 27 March 1999. Since 1989, when his wife was first placed under house arrest, he had seen her only five times, the last of which was for Christmas in 1995. She was also separated from her children, who live in the United Kingdom, but starting in 2011, they have visited her in Burma.
On 2 May 2008, after Cyclone Nargis hit Burma, Suu Kyi lost the roof of her house and lived in virtual darkness after losing electricity in her dilapidated lakeside residence. She used candles at night as she was not provided any generator set. Plans to renovate and repair the house were announced in August 2009. Suu Kyi was released from house arrest on 13 November 2010.
Coincidentally, when Aung San Suu Kyi returned to Burma in 1988, the long-time military leader of Burma and head of the ruling party, General Ne Win, stepped down. Mass demonstrations for democracy followed that event on 8 August 1988 (8–8–88, a day seen as auspicious), which were violently suppressed in what came to be known as the 8888 Uprising. On 26 August 1988, she addressed half a million people at a mass rally in front of the Shwedagon Pagoda in the capital, calling for a democratic government. However, in September, a new military junta took power.
Influenced by both Mahatma Gandhi's philosophy of non-violence and more specifically by Buddhist concepts, Aung San Suu Kyi entered politics to work for democratization, helped found the National League for Democracy on 27 September 1988, but was put under house arrest on 20 July 1989. Offered freedom if she left the country, she refused. Despite her philosophy of non-violence, a group of ex-military commanders and senior politicians who joined NLD during the crisis believed that she was too confrontational and left NLD. However, she retained enormous popularity and support among NLD youths with whom she spent most of her time.
During her time under house arrest, Suu Kyi devoted herself to Buddhist meditation practices and to studying Buddhist thought. This deeper interest in Buddhism is reflected in her writings as more emphasis is put on love and compassion. There also emerged more discussion on the compatibility of democracy and Buddhism and the ability of gaining freedom from an authoritarian government through Buddhism.
During the crisis, the previous democratically elected Prime Minister of Burma, U Nu, initiated to form an interim government and invited opposition leaders to join him. Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had signaled his readiness to recognize the interim government. However, Aung San Suu Kyi categorically rejected U Nu's plan by saying "the future of the opposition would be decided by masses of the people". Ex-Brigadier General Aung Gyi, another influential politician at the time of the 8888 crisis and the first chairman in the history of the NLD, followed the suit and rejected the plan after Suu Kyi's refusal. Aung Gyi later accused several NLD members of being communists and resigned from the party.
1990 general election and Nobel Peace Prize
In 1990, the military junta called a general election, in which the National League for Democracy (NLD) received 59% of the votes, guaranteeing NLD 80% of the parliament seats. Some[who?] claim that Aung San Suu Kyi would have assumed the office of Prime Minister; in fact, however, as she was not permitted [clarification needed], she did not stand as a candidate in the elections (although being a member of parliament is not a strict prerequisite for becoming prime minister in most parliamentary systems). Instead, the results were nullified and the military refused to hand over power, resulting in an international outcry. Aung San Suu Kyi was placed under house arrest at her home on University Avenue (16°49′32″N96°9′1″E / 16.82556°N 96.15028°E / 16.82556; 96.15028) in Rangoon, during which time she was awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in 1990, and the Nobel Peace Prize the year after. Her sons Alexander and Kim accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on her behalf. Aung San Suu Kyi used the Nobel Peace Prize's 1.3 million USD prize money to establish a health and education trust for the Burmese people. Around this time, Aung San Suu Kyi chose non-violence as an expedient political tactic, stating in 2007, "I do not hold to non-violence for moral reasons, but for political and practical reasons."
On 9 November 1996, the motorcade that Aung San Suu Kyi was traveling in with other National League for Democracy leaders Tin Oo and Kyi Maung, was attacked in Yangon. About 200 men swooped down on the motorcade, wielding metal chains, metal batons, stones and other weapons. The car that Aung San Suu Kyi was in had its rear window smashed, and the car with Tin Oo and Kyi Maung had its rear window and two backdoor windows shattered. It is believed the offenders were members of the Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA) who were allegedly paid 500 kyats (@ USD $0.50) each to participate. The NLD lodged an official complaint with the police, and according to reports the government launched an investigation, but no action was taken. (Amnesty International 120297)
Aung San Suu Kyi was placed under house arrest for a total of 15 years over a 21-year period, on numerous occasions, since she began her political career, during which time she was prevented from meeting her party supporters and international visitors. In an interview, she said that while under house arrest she spent her time reading philosophy, politics and biographies that her husband had sent her. She also passed the time playing the piano, and was occasionally allowed visits from foreign diplomats as well as from her personal physician.
Although under house arrest, Aung San Suu Kyi was granted permission to leave Burma under the condition that she never return, which she refused: "As a mother, the greater sacrifice was giving up my sons, but I was always aware of the fact that others had given up more than me. I never forget that my colleagues who are in prison suffer not only physically, but mentally for their families who have no security outside- in the larger prison of Burma under authoritarian rule." Her loyalty to the people of Burma and her solidarity with those imprisoned for their pro-democratic acts have earned her deep respect among the Burmese people.
The media were also prevented from visiting Aung San Suu Kyi, as occurred in 1998 when journalist Maurizio Giuliano, after photographing her, was stopped by customs officials who then confiscated all his films, tapes and some notes. In contrast, Aung San Suu Kyi did have visits from government representatives, such as during her autumn 1994 house arrest when she met the leader of Burma, General Than Shwe and General Khin Nyunt on 20 September in the first meeting since she had been placed in detention. On several occasions during her house arrest, she had periods of poor health and as a result was hospitalized.
The Burmese government detained and kept Aung San Suu Kyi imprisoned because it viewed her as someone "likely to undermine the community peace and stability" of the country, and used both Article 10(a) and 10(b) of the 1975 State Protection Act (granting the government the power to imprison people for up to five years without a trial), and Section 22 of the "Law to Safeguard the State Against the Dangers of Those Desiring to Cause Subversive Acts" as legal tools against her. She continuously appealed her detention, and many nations and figures continued to call for her release and that of 2,100 other political prisoners in the country. On 12 November 2010, days after the junta-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) won elections conducted after a gap of 20 years, the junta finally agreed to sign orders allowing Suu Kyi's release, and Suu Kyi's house arrest term came to an end on 13 November 2010.
United Nations involvement
The United Nations (UN) has attempted to facilitate dialogue between the junta and Aung San Suu Kyi. On 6 May 2002, following secret confidence-building negotiations led by the UN, the government released her; a government spokesman said that she was free to move "because we are confident that we can trust each other". Aung San Suu Kyi proclaimed "a new dawn for the country". However, on 30 May 2003 in an incident similar to the 1996 attack on her, a government-sponsored mob attacked her caravan in the northern village of Depayin, murdering and wounding many of her supporters. Aung San Suu Kyi fled the scene with the help of her driver, Kyaw Soe Lin, but was arrested upon reaching Ye-U. The government imprisoned her at Insein Prison in Rangoon. After she underwent a hysterectomy in September 2003, the government again placed her under house arrest in Rangoon.
The results from the UN facilitation have been mixed; Razali Ismail, UN special envoy to Burma, met with Aung San Suu Kyi. Ismail resigned from his post the following year, partly because he was denied re-entry to Burma on several occasions. Several years later in 2006, Ibrahim Gambari, UN Undersecretary-General (USG) of Department of Political Affairs, met with Aung San Suu Kyi, the first visit by a foreign official since 2004. He also met with Suu Kyi later the same year. On 2 October 2007 Gambari returned to talk to her again after seeing Than Shwe and other members of the senior leadership in Naypyidaw.State television broadcast Suu Kyi with Gambari, stating that they had met twice. This was Suu Kyi's first appearance in state media in the four years since her current detention began.
The United Nations Working Group for Arbitrary Detention published an Opinion that Aung San Suu Kyi's deprivation of liberty was arbitrary and in contravention of Article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948, and requested that the authorities in Burma set her free, but the authorities ignored the request at that time. The U.N. report said that according to the Burmese Government's reply, "Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has not been arrested, but has only been taken into protective custody, for her own safety", and while "it could have instituted legal action against her under the country's domestic legislation ... it has preferred to adopt a magnanimous attitude, and is providing her with protection in her own interests".
Such claims were rejected by Brig-General Khin Yi, Chief of Myanmar Police Force (MPF). On 18 January 2007, the state-run paper New Light of Myanmar accused Suu Kyi of tax evasion for spending her Nobel Prize money outside the country. The accusation followed the defeat of a US-sponsored United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Burma as a threat to international security; the resolution was defeated because of strong opposition from China, which has strong ties with the military junta (China later voted against the resolution, along with Russia and South Africa).
In November 2007, it was reported that Suu Kyi would meet her political allies National League for Democracy along with a government minister. The ruling junta made the official announcement on state TV and radio just hours after UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari ended his second visit to Burma. The NLD confirmed that it had received the invitation to hold talks with Suu Kyi. However, the process delivered few concrete results.
On 3 July 2009, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon went to Burma to pressure the junta into releasing Suu Kyi and to institute democratic reform. However, on departing from Burma, Ban Ki-moon said he was "disappointed" with the visit after junta leader Than Shwe refused permission for him to visit Suu Kyi, citing her ongoing trial. Ban said he was "deeply disappointed that they have missed a very important opportunity".
Periods under detention
- 20 July 1989: Placed under house arrest in Rangoon under martial law that allows for detention without charge or trial for three years.
- 10 July 1995: Released from house arrest.
- 23 September 2000: Placed under house arrest.
- 6 May 2002: Released after 19 months.
- 30 May 2003: Arrested following the Depayin massacre, she was held in secret detention for more than three months before being returned to house arrest.
- 25 May 2007: House arrest extended by one year despite a direct appeal from U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to General Than Shwe.
- 24 October 2007: Reached 12 years under house arrest, solidarity protests held at 12 cities around the world.
- 27 May 2008: House arrest extended for another year, which is illegal under both international law and Burma's own law.
- 11 August 2009: House arrest extended for 18 more months because of "violation" arising from the May 2009 trespass incident.
- 13 November 2010: Released from house arrest.
2007 anti-government protests
Main article: 2007 Burmese anti-government protests
Protests led by Buddhist monks began on 19 August 2007 following steep fuel price increases, and continued each day, despite the threat of a crackdown by the military.
On 22 September 2007, although still under house arrest, Suu Kyi made a brief public appearance at the gate of her residence in Yangon to accept the blessings of Buddhist monks who were marching in support of human rights. It was reported that she had been moved the following day to Insein Prison (where she had been detained in 2003), but meetings with UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari near her Rangoon home on 30 September and 2 October established that she remained under house arrest.
2009 trespass incident
Main article: Suu Kyi trespasser incidents
On 3 May 2009, an American man, identified as John Yettaw, swam across Inya Lake to her house uninvited and was arrested when he made his return trip three days later. He had attempted to make a similar trip two years earlier, but for unknown reasons was turned away. He later claimed at trial that he was motivated by a divine vision requiring him to notify her of an impending terrorist assassination attempt. On 13 May, Suu Kyi was arrested for violating the terms of her house arrest because the swimmer, who pleaded exhaustion, was allowed to stay in her house for two days before he attempted the swim back. Suu Kyi was later taken to Insein Prison, where she could have faced up to five years confinement for the intrusion. The trial of Suu Kyi and her two maids began on 18 May and a small number of protesters gathered outside. Diplomats and journalists were barred from attending the trial; however, on one occasion, several diplomats from Russia, Thailand and Singapore and journalists were allowed to meet Suu Kyi. The prosecution had originally planned to call 22 witnesses. It also accused John Yettaw of embarrassing the country. During the ongoing defence case, Suu Kyi said she was innocent. The defence was allowed to call only one witness (out of four), while the prosecution was permitted to call 14 witnesses. The court rejected two character witnesses, NLD members Tin Oo and Win Tin, and permitted the defence to call only a legal expert. According to one unconfirmed report, the junta was planning to, once again, place her in detention, this time in a military base outside the city. In a separate trial, Yettaw said he swam to Suu Kyi's house to warn her that her life was "in danger". The national police chief later confirmed that Yettaw was the "main culprit" in the case filed against Suu Kyi. According to aides, Suu Kyi spent her 64th birthday in jail sharing biryani rice and chocolate cake with her guards.
Her arrest and subsequent trial received worldwide condemnation by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations Security Council, Western governments, South Africa, Japan and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, of which Burma is a member. The Burmese government strongly condemned the statement, as it created an "unsound tradition" and criticised Thailand for meddling in its internal affairs. The Burmese Foreign Minister Nyan Win was quoted in the state-run newspaper New Light of Myanmar as saying that the incident "was trumped up to intensify international pressure on Burma by internal and external anti-government elements who do not wish to see the positive changes in those countries' policies toward Burma". Ban responded to an international campaign by flying to Burma to negotiate, but Than Shwe rejected all of his requests.
On 11 August 2009 the trial concluded with Suu Kyi being sentenced to imprisonment for three years with hard labour. This sentence was commuted by the military rulers to further house arrest of 18 months. On 14 August, U.S. SenatorJim Webb visited Burma, visiting with junta leader Gen. Than Shwe and later with Suu Kyi. During the visit, Webb negotiated Yettaw's release and deportation from Burma. Following the verdict of the trial, lawyers of Suu Kyi said they would appeal against the 18-month sentence. On 18 August, United States President Barack Obama asked the country's military leadership to set free all political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi. In her appeal, Aung San Suu Kyi had argued that the conviction was unwarranted. However, her appeal against the August sentence was rejected by a Burmese court on 2 October 2009. Although the court accepted the argument that the 1974 constitution, under which she had been charged, was null and void, it also said the provisions of the 1975 security law, under which she has been kept under house arrest, remained in force. The verdict effectively meant that she would be unable to participate in the elections scheduled to take place in 2010 – the first in Burma in two decades. Her lawyer stated that her legal team would pursue a new appeal within 60 days.
2009: International pressure for release and 2010 Burmese general election
It was announced prior to the Burmese general election that Aung San Suu Kyi may be released "so she can organize her party", However, Suu Kyi was not allowed to run. On 1 October 2010 the government announced that she would be released on 13 November 2010.
U.S. President Barack Obama personally advocated the release of all political prisoners, especially Aung San Suu Kyi, during the US-ASEAN Summit of 2009.
The U.S. Government hoped that successful general elections would be an optimistic indicator of the Burmese government's sincerity towards eventual democracy. The Hatoyama government which spent 2.82 billion yen in 2008, has promised more Japanese foreign aid to encourage Burma to release Aung San Suu Kyi in time for the elections; and to continue moving towards democracy and the rule of law.
In a personal letter to Suu Kyi, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown cautioned the Burmese government of the potential consequences of rigging elections as "condemning Burma to more years of diplomatic isolation and economic stagnation".
Suu Kyi has met with many heads of state, and opened a dialog with the Minister of Labor Aung Kyi (not to be confused with Aung San Suu Kyi). She was allowed to meet with senior members of her NLD party at the State House, however these meetings took place under close supervision.
On the evening of 13 November 2010, Suu Kyi was released from house arrest. This was the date her detention had been set to expire according to a court ruling in August 2009 and came six days after a widely criticised general election. She appeared in front of a crowd of her supporters, who rushed to her house in Rangoon when nearby barricades were removed by the security forces. Suu Kyi had been detained for 15 of the past 21 years. The government newspaper New Light of Myanmar reported the release positively, saying she had been granted a pardon after serving her sentence "in good conduct".The New York Times suggested that the military government may have released Suu Kyi because it felt it was in a confident position to control her supporters after the election. The role that Suu Kyi will play in the future of democracy in Burma remains a subject of much debate.
Her son Kim Aris was granted a visa in November 2010 to see his mother shortly after her release, for the first time in 10 years. He visited again on 5 July 2011, to accompany her on a trip to Bagan, her first trip outside Yangon since 2003. Her son visited again on 8 August 2011, to accompany her on a trip to Pegu, her second trip.
Discussions were held between Suu Kyi and the Burmese government during 2011, which led to a number of official gestures to meet her demands. In October, around a tenth of Burma's political prisoners were freed in an amnesty and trade unions were legalised.
In November 2011, following a meeting of its leaders, the NLD announced its intention to re-register as a political party in order to contend 48 by-elections necessitated by the promotion of parliamentarians to ministerial rank. Following the decision, Suu Kyi held a telephone conference with U.S. President Barack Obama, in which it was agreed that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would make a visit to Burma, a move received with caution by Burma's ally China. On 1 December 2011, Suu Kyi met with Hillary Clinton at the residence of the top-ranking US diplomat in Yangon.
On 21 December 2011, Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra met Suu Kyi in Yangoon, marking Suu Kyi's "first-ever meeting with the leader of a foreign country".
On 5 January 2012, British Foreign Minister William Hague met Aung San Suu Kyi and his Burmese counterpart. This represented a significant visit for Suu Kyi and Burma. Suu Kyi studied in the UK and maintains many ties there, whilst Britain is Burma's largest bilateral donor. During Aung San Suu Kyi's visit to Europe, she visited the Swiss parliament, collected her 1991 Nobel Prize in Oslo and her honorary degree from Oxford University.
In December 2011, there was speculation that Suu Kyi would run in the 2012 national by-elections to fill vacant seats. On 18 January 2012, Suu Kyi formally registered to contest a Pyithu Hluttaw (lower house) seat in the Kawhmu Township constituency in special parliamentary elections to be held on 1 April 2012. The seat was previously held by Soe Tint, who vacated it after being appointed Construction Deputy Minister, in the 2010 election. She ran against Union Solidarity and Development Party candidate Soe Min, a retired army physician and native of Twante Township.
On 3 March 2012, at a large campaign rally in Mandalay, Suu Kyi unexpectedly left after 15 minutes, because of exhaustion and airsickness.
In an official campaign speech broadcast on Burmese state television's MRTV on 14 March 2012, Suu Kyi publicly campaigned for reform of the 2008 Constitution, removal of restrictive laws, more adequate protections for people's democratic rights, and establishment of an independent judiciary. The speech was leaked online a day before it was broadcast. A paragraph in the speech, focusing on the Tatmadaw's repression by means of law, was censored by authorities.
Suu Kyi has also called for international media to monitor the upcoming by-elections, while publicly pointing out irregularities in official voter lists, which include deceased individuals and exclude other eligible voters in the contested constituencies. On 21 March 2012, Aung San Suu Kyi was quoted as saying "Fraud and rule violations are continuing and we can even say they are increasing."
When asked whether she would assume a ministerial post if given the opportunity, she said the following:
I can tell you one thing – that under the present constitution, if you become a member of the government you have to vacate your seat in the national assembly. And I am not working so hard to get into parliament simply to vacate my seat.
On 26 March 2012, Suu Kyi suspended her nationwide campaign tour early, after a campaign rally in Myeik (Mergui), a coastal town in the south, citing health problems due to exhaustion and hot weather.
On 1 April 2012, the NLD announced that Suu Kyi had won the vote for a seat in Parliament. A news broadcast on state-run MRTV, reading the announcements of the Union Election Commission, confirmed her victory, as well as her party's victory in 43 of the 45 contested seats, officially making Suu Kyi the Leader of the Opposition in the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw.
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi (born 19 June1945) is a non-violent pro-democracy social activist of Myanmar; Winner of the 1990 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought and the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize. She is the First and incumbent State Counsellor of Myanmar. In 2017 she was widely criticized for attempts to justify the Rohingya community ethnic cleansing.
- Revered monks and people. This public rally is aimed at informing the whole world of the will of the people... Our purpose is to show that the entire people entertain the keenest desire for a multiparty democratic system of government.
- First public speech (26 August 1988).
- Democracy allows people to have different views, and democracy makes it also -- makes us also responsible for negotiating an answer for those views. [...] So we would like to -- it’s not just a matter of debating the case in parliament and winning Brownie points or Boy Scout points, or whatever they’re called. But it’s just a case of standing up for what we think our country needs. And we would like to talk to those who disagree with us. That, again, is what democracy is about. You talk to those who disagree with you; you don’t beat them down. You exchange views. And you come to a compromise, a settlement that would be best for the country. I’ve always said that dialogues and debates are not aimed at achieving victory for one particular party or the other, but victory for our people as a whole. [...] We want to build up a strong foundation for national reconciliation, which means reconciliation not just between the different ethnic groups and between different religious groups, but between different ideas -- for example, between the idea of military supremacy and the idea of civilian authority over the military, which is the foundation of democracy.
- Our struggle for democracy has been carried out with a strong grasp on the principle of nonviolence. And also, we believe in the rule of law. So if you ask how do we propose to resolve all of these problems of violence between communities, between different ethnic groups, we've got to start with rule of law. People have to feel secure before they can start talking to one another. We cannot achieve harmony without security. People who feel threatened are not going to sit down and sort out their problems. So I would like to recommend, as the chair of the Rule of Law and Tranquility Committee -- don't forget that tranquility is also included -- that the government should look to rule of law. It is the duty of the government to make all our people feel secure, and it is the duty of our people to learn to live in harmony with one another.
In Quest of Democracy (1991)
- In Quest of Democracy (1991)
- The root of a nation's misfortunes has to be sought in the moral failings of the government.
- The good ruler sublimates his needs as an individual to the service of the nation.
- While a private individual may be bound only by the formal vows that he makes, those who govern should be wholly bound by the truth in thought, word and deed.
- It is undeniably easier to ignore the hardships of those who are too weak to demand their rights than to respond sensitively to their needs. To care is to accept responsibility, to dare to act in accordance with the dictum that the ruler is the strength of the helpless.
- The royal duty of non-opposition is a reminder that the legitimacy of government is founded on the consent of the people, who may withdraw their mandate at any time if they lose confidence in the ability of the ruler to serve their best interests.
- It is a strong argument for democracy that governments regulated by principles of accountability, respect for public opinion and the supremacy of just laws are more likely than an all-powerful ruler or ruling class, uninhibited by the need to honour the will of the people, to observe the traditional duties of Buddhist kingship. Traditional values serve both to justify and to decipher popular expectations of democratic government.
- Each man has in him the potential to realize the truth through his own will and endeavour and to help others to realize it. Human life therefore is infinitely precious.
- But despotic governments do not recognize the precious human component of the state, seeing its citizens only as a faceless, mindless - and helpless - mass to be manipulated at will. It is as though people were incidental to a nation rather than its very life-blood. Patriotism, which should be the vital love and care of a people for their land, is debased into a smokescreen of hysteria to hide the injustices of authoritarian rulers who define the interests of the state in terms of their own limited interests.
- Weak logic, inconsistencies and alienation from the people are common features of authoritarianism. The relentless attempts of totalitarian regimes to prevent free thought and new ideas and the persistent assertion of their own rightness bring on them an intellectual stasis which they project on to the nation at large. Intimidation and propaganda work in a duet of oppression, while the people, lapped in fear and distrust, learn to dissemble and to keep silent. And all the time the desire grows for a system which will lift them from the position of 'rice-eating robots' to the status of human beings who can think and speak freely and hold their heads high in the security of their rights.
- Hope and optimism are irrepressible but there is a deep underlying premonition that the opposition to change is likely to be vicious. Often the anxious question is asked: will such an oppressive regime really give us democracy? And the answer has to be: democracy, like liberty, justice and other social and political rights, is not 'given', it is earned through courage, resolution and sacrifice.
- Revolutions generally reflect the irresistible impulse for necessary changes which have been held back by official policies or retarded by social apathy. The institutions and practices of democracy provide ways and means by which such changes could be effected without recourse to violence. But change is anathema to authoritarianism, which will tolerate no deviation from rigid policies. Democracy acknowledges the right to differ as well as the duty to settle differences peacefully. Authoritarian governments see criticism of their actions and doctrines as a challenge to combat. Opposition is equated with 'confrontation', which is interpreted as violent conflict. Regimented minds cannot grasp the concept of confrontation as an open exchange of major differences with a view to settlement through genuine dialogue. The insecurity of power based on coercion translates into a need to crush all dissent. Within the framework of liberal democracy, protest and dissent can exist in healthy counterpart with orthodoxy and conservatism, contained by a general recognition of the need to balance respect for individual rights with respect for law and order.
- The words 'law and order' have so frequently been misused as an excuse for oppression that the very phrase has become suspect in countries which have known authoritarian rule. [...] There is no intrinsic virtue to law and order unless 'law' is equated with justice and 'order' with the discipline of a people satisfied that justice has been done. Law as an instrument of state oppression is a familiar feature of totalitarianism. Without a popularly elected legislature and an independent judiciary to ensure due process, the authorities can enforce as 'law' arbitrary decrees that are in fact flagrant negations of all acceptable norms of justice. There can be no security for citizens in a state where new 'laws' can be made and old ones changed to suit the convenience of the powers that be. The iniquity of such practices is traditionally recognized by the precept that existing laws should not be set aside at will.
- The true measure of the justice of a system is the amount of protection it guarantees to the weakest.
- Where there is no justice there can be no secure peace.
- The Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes that 'if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression', human rights should be protected by the rule of law. That just laws which uphold human rights are the necessary foundation of peace and security would be denied only by closed minds which interpret peace as the silence of all opposition and security as the assurance of their own power.
- In a revolutionary movement there is always the danger that political exigencies might obscure, or even nullify, essential spiritual aims. A firm insistence on the inviolability and primacy of such aims is not mere idealism but a necessary safeguard against an Animal Farm syndrome where the new order after its first flush of enthusiastic reforms takes on the murky colours of the very system it has replaced.
- The unhappy legacies of authoritarianism can be removed only if the concept of absolute power as the basis of government is replaced by the concept of confidence as the mainspring of political authority: the confidence of the people in their right and ability to decide the destiny of their nation, mutual confidence between the people and their leaders and, most important of all, confidence in the principles of justice, liberty and human rights.
- There is an instinctive understanding that the cultural, social and political development of a nation is a dynamic process which has to be given purpose and direction by drawing on tradition as well as by experiment, innovation and a willingness to evaluate both old and new ideas objectively.
Freedom from Fear (1991)
- Acceptance message for the 1990 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought (July 1991)
- 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. And it would be difficult to dispel ignorance unless there is freedom to pursue the truth unfettered by fear. With so close a relationship between fear and corruption it is little wonder that in any society where fear is rife corruption in all forms becomes deeply entrenched.
- The effort necessary to remain uncorrupted in an environment where fear is an integral part of everyday existence is not immediately apparent to those fortunate enough to live in states governed by the rule of law. Just laws do not merely prevent corruption by meting out impartial punishment to offenders. They also help to create a society in which people can fulfil the basic requirements necessary for the preservation of human dignity without recourse to corrupt practices. Where there are no such laws, the burden of upholding the principles of justice and common decency falls on the ordinary people. It is the cumulative effect on their sustained effort and steady endurance which will change a nation where reason and conscience are warped by fear into one where legal rules exist to promote man's desire for harmony and justice while restraining the less desirable destructive traits in his nature.
- In an age when immense technological advances have created lethal weapons which could be, and are, used by the powerful and the unprincipled to dominate the weak and the helpless, there is a compelling need for a closer relationship between politics and ethics at both the national and international levels. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations proclaims that 'every individual and every organ of society' should strive to promote the basic rights and freedoms to which all human beings regardless of race, nationality or religion are entitled. But as long as there are governments whose authority is founded on coercion rather than on the mandate of the people, and interest groups which place short-term profits above long-term peace and prosperity, concerted international action to protect and promote human rights will remain at best a partially realized struggle.
- The quintessential revolution is that of the spirit, born of an intellectual conviction of the need for change in those mental attitudes and values which shape the course of a nation's development. A revolution which aims merely at changing official policies and institutions with a view to an improvement in material conditions has little chance of genuine success. Without a revolution of the spirit, the forces which produced the iniquities of the old order would continue to be operative, posing a constant threat to the process of reform and regeneration. 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.
- Among the basic freedoms to which men aspire that their lives might be full and uncramped, freedom from fear stands out as both a means and an end. A people who would build a nation in which strong, democratic institutions are firmly established as a guarantee against state-induced power must first learn to liberate their own minds from apathy and fear.
- Gandhi, that great apostle of non-violence, and Aung San, the founder of a national army, were very different personalities, but as there is an inevitable sameness about the challenges of authoritarian rule anywhere at any time, so there is a similarity in the intrinsic qualities of those who rise up to meet the challenge.
- Fearlessness may be a gift but perhaps more precious is the courage acquired through endeavour, courage that comes from cultivating the habit of refusing to let fear dictate one's actions, courage that could be described as "grace under pressure" — grace which is renewed repeatedly in the face of harsh, unremitting pressure.
- Within a system which denies the existence of basic human rights, fear tends to be the order of the day. Fear of imprisonment, fear of torture, fear of death, fear of losing friends, family, property or means of livelihood, fear of poverty, fear of isolation, fear of failure. A most insidious form of fear is that which masquerades as common sense or even wisdom, condemning as foolish, reckless, insignificant or futile the small, daily acts of courage which help to preserve man's self-respect and inherent human dignity. It is not easy for a people conditioned by fear under the iron rule of the principle that might is right to free themselves from the enervating miasma of fear. Yet even under the most crushing state machinery courage rises up again and again, for fear is not the natural state of civilized man.
- The wellspring of courage and endurance in the face of unbridled power is generally a firm belief in the sanctity of ethical principles combined with a historical sense that despite all setbacks the condition of man is set on an ultimate course for both spiritual and material advancement. It is his capacity for self-improvement and self-redemption which most distinguishes man from the mere brute. At the root of human responsibility is the concept of perfection, the urge to achieve it, the intelligence to find a path towards it, and the will to follow that path if not to the end at least the distance needed to rise above individual limitations and environmental impediments. It is man's vision of a world fit for rational, civilized humanity which leads him to dare and to suffer to build societies free from want and fear. Concepts such as truth, justice and compassion cannot be dismissed as trite when these are often the only bulwarks which stand against ruthless power.
Opening Keynote Address at NGO Forum on Women, Beijing China (1995)
- "Opening Keynote Address at NGO Forum on Women, Beijing " in the Video recording August 31, 1995 (august 31, 1995)
- It is a wonderful but daunting task that has fallen on me to say few words by way of opening this Forum, the greatest concourse of women (joined by a few brave men!) that has ever gathered on our planet. I want to try and voice some of the common hopes which firmly unite us in all our splendid diversity.
- But first I would like to explain why I cannot be with you in person today. Last month I was released from almost six years of house arrest. The regaining of my freedom has in turn imposed a duty on me to work for the freedom of other women and men in my country who have suffered far more -- and who continue to suffer far more -- than I have. It is this duty which prevents me from joining you today. Even sending this message to you has not been without difficulties. But the help of those who believe in international cooperation and freedom of expression has enabled me to overcome the obstacles. They made it possible for me to make a small contribution to this great celebration of the struggle of women to mould their own destiny and to influence the fate of our global village.
- The opening plenary of this Forum will be presenting an overview of the global forces affecting the quality of life of the human community and the challenges they pose for the global community as a whole and for women in particular as we approach the twenty-first century. However, with true womanly understanding, the Convener of this Forum suggested that among these global forces and challenges, I might wish to concentrate on those matters which occupy all my waking thoughts these days: peace, security, human rights and democracy. I would like to discuss these issues particularly in the context of the participation of women in politics and governance.
- For millennia women have dedicated themselves almost exclusively to the task of nurturing, protecting and caring for the young and the old, striving for the conditions of peace that favour life as a whole. To this can be added the fact that, to the best of my knowledge, no war was ever started by women. But it is women and children who have always suffered most in situations of conflict. Now that we are gaining control of the primary historical role imposed on us of sustaining life in the context of the home and family, it is time to apply in the arena of the world the wisdom and experience thus gained in activities of peace over so many thousands of years. The education and empowerment of women throughout the world cannot fail to result in a more caring, tolerant, just and peaceful life for all.
- If to these universal benefits of the growing emancipation of women can be added to the "peace dividend" for human development offered by the end of the Cold War, spending less on the war toys of grown men and much more on the urgent needs of humanity as a whole, then truly the next millennia will be an age the like of which has never been seen in human history. But there still remain many obstacles to be overcome before we can achieve this goal. And not least among those obstacles are intolerance and insecurity.
- This year is the International Year for Tolerance. The United Nations has recognized that "tolerance, human rights, democracy and peace are closely related. Without tolerance, the foundations form democracy and respect for human rights cannot be strengthened, and the achievement of peace will remain elusive." My own experience during the years I have been engaged in the democracy movement of Burma has convinced me of the need to emphasize the positive aspect of tolerance. It is not enough simply to "live and let live": genuine tolerance requires an active effort to try to understand the point of view of others; it implies broad-mindedness and vision, as well as confidence in one's own ability to meet new challenges without resorting to intransigence or violence. In societies where men are truly confident of their own worth women are not merely "tolerated", they are valued. Their opinions are listened to with respect, they are given their rightful place in shaping the society in which they live.
- There is an outmoded Burmese proverb still recited by men who wish to deny that women too can play a part in bringing necessary change and progress to their society: "The dawn rises only when the rooster crows." But Burmese people today are well aware of the scientific reasons behind the rising of dawn and the falling of dusk. And the intelligent rooster surely realizes that it is because dawn comes that it crows and not the other way round. It crows to welcome the light that has come to relieve the darkness of night. It is not the prerogative of men alone to bring light to this world: women with their capacity for compassion and self-sacrifice, their courage and perseverance, have done much to dissipate the darkness of intolerance and hate, suffering and despair.
- Often the other side of the coin of intolerance is insecurity. Insecure people tend to be intolerant, and their intolerance unleashes forces that threaten the security of others. And where there is no security there can be no lasting peace. In its "Human Development Report" for last year the UNDP noted that human security "is not a concern with weapons -- it is a concern with human life and dignity." The struggle for democracy and human rights in Burma is a struggle for life and dignity. It is a struggle that encompasses our political, social and economic aspirations. The people of my country want the two freedoms that spell security: freedom from want and freedom from fear. It is want that has driven so many of our young girls across our borders to a life of sexual slavery where they are subject to constant humiliation and ill-treatment. It is fear of persecution for their political beliefs that has made so many of our people feel that even in their own homes they cannot live in dignity and security.
- Traditionally the home is the domain of the woman. But there has never been a guarantee that she can live out her life there safe and unmolested. There are countless women who are subjected to severe cruelty within the heart of the family which should be their haven. And in times of crisis when their menfolk are unable to give them protection, women have to face the harsh challenges of the world outside while continuing to discharge their duties within the home.
- Many of my male colleagues who have suffered imprisonment for their part in the democracy movement have spoken of the great debt of gratitude they owe their womenfolk, particularly to their wives who stood by them firmly, tender as mothers nursing their newly born, brave as lionesses defending their young. These magnificent human beings who have done so much to aid their men in the struggle for justice and peace -- how much more could they not achieve if given the opportunity to work in their own right for the good of their country and of the world.
- Our endeavours have also been sustained by the activities of strong and principled women all over the world who have campaigned not only for my own release but, more importantly, for our cause. I cannot let this opportunity pass without speaking of the gratitude we feel towards our sisters everywhere, from heads of government to busy housewives. Their efforts have been a triumphant demonstration of female solidarity and of the power of an ideal to cross all frontiers.
- In my country at present, women have no participation in the higher levels of government and none whatsoever in the judiciary. Even within the democratic movement only 14 out of the 485 MPs elected in 1990 were women -- all from my own party, the National League for Democracy. These 14 women represent less than 3 percent of the total number of successful candidates. They, like their male colleagues, have not been permitted to take office since the outcome of those elections has been totally ignored. Yet the very high performance of women in our educational system and in the management of commercial enterprises proves their enormous potential to contribute to the betterment of society in general. Meanwhile our women have yet to achieve those fundamental rights of free expression, association and security of life denied also to their menfolk.
- The adversities that we have had to face together have taught all of us involved in the struggle to build a truly democratic political system in Burma that there are no gender barriers that cannot be overcome. The relationship between men and women should, and can be, characterized not by patronizing behavior or exploitation, but by METTA (that is to say loving kindness), partnership and trust. We need mutual respect and understanding between men and women, instead of patriarchal domination and degradation, which are expressions of violence and engender counter-violence. We can learn from each other and help one another to moderate the "gender weaknesses" imposed upon us by traditional or biological factors.
- There is an age old prejudice the world over to effect that women talk too much. But is this really a weakness? Could it not in fact be a strength? Recent scientific research on the human brain has revealed that women are better at verbal skills while men tend towards physical action. Psychological research has shown on the other hand that disinformation engendered by men has a far more damaging effect on its victims than feminine gossip. Surely these discoveries indicate that women have a most valuable contribution to make in situations of conflict, by leading the way to solutions based on dialogue rather than on viciousness or violence?
- The Buddhist PAVARANA ceremony at the end of the rainy season retreat was instituted by the Lord Buddha, who did not want human beings to live in silence "like dumb animals." This ceremony, during which monks ask mutual forgiveness for any offence given during the retreat, can be said to be a council of truth and reconciliation. It might also be considered a forerunner of that most democratic of institutions, the parliament, a meeting of peoples gathered together to talk over their shared problems. All the world's great religions are dedicated to the generation of happiness and harmony. This demonstrates the fact that together with the combative instincts of man there co-exists a spiritual aspiration for mutual understanding and peace.
- This forum of non-governmental organizations represents the belief in the ability of intelligent human beings to resolve conflicting interests through exchange and dialogue. It also represents the conviction that governments alone cannot resolve all the problems of their countries. The watchfulness and active cooperation of organizations outside the spheres of officialdom are necessary to ensure the four essential components of the human development paradigm as identified by the UNDP: productivity, equity, sustainability and empowerment. The last is particularly relevant: it requires that "development must be BY people, not only FOR them. People must participate fully in the decisions and processes that shape their lives." In other words people must be allowed to play a significant role in the governance of their country. And "people" include women who make up at least half of the world's population.
- The last six years afforded me much time and food for thought. I came to the conclusion that the human race is not divided into two opposing camps of good and evil. It is made up of those who are capable of learning and those who are incapable of doing so. Here I am not talking of learning in the narrow sense of acquiring an academic education, but of learning as the process of absorbing those lessons of life that enable us to increase peace and happiness in our world. Women in their role as mothers have traditionally assumed the responsibility of teaching children values that will guide them throughout their lives. It is time we were given the full opportunity to use our natural teaching skills to contribute towards building a modern world that can withstand the tremendous challenges of the technological revolution which has in turn brought revolutionary changes in social values.
- As we strive to teach others we must have the humility to acknowledge that we too still have much to learn. And we must have the flexibility to adapt to the changing needs of the world around us. Women who have been taught that modesty and pliancy are among the prized virtues of our gender are marvellously equipped for the learning process. But they must be given the opportunity to turn these often merely passive virtues into positive assets for the society in which they live.
- These, then, are our common hopes that unite us -- that as the shackles of prejudice and intolerance fall from our own limbs we can together strive to identify and remove the impediments to human development everywhere. The mechanisms by which this great task is to be achieved provide the proper focus of this great Forum. I feel sure that women throughout the world who, like me, cannot be with you join me now in sending you all our prayers and good wishes for a joyful and productive meeting.
Please Use Your Liberty to Promote Ours (1997)
- "Please Use Your Liberty to Promote Ours" in the International Herald Tribune (4 February 1997)
- Those of us who decided to work for democracy in Burma made our choice in the conviction that the danger of standing up for basic human rights in a repressive society was preferable to the safety of a quiescent life in servitude. Ours is a nonviolent movement that depends on faith in the human predilection for fair play and compassion.
Some would insist that man is primarily an economic animal interested only in his material well-being. This is too narrow a view of a species which has produced numberless brave men and women who are prepared to undergo relentless persecution to uphold deeply held beliefs and principles. It is my pride and inspiration that such men and women exist in my country today.
- When we are struggling against overwhelming odds, when we are pitting ourselves against the combined might of state apparatus and military power, we are sometimes subject to doubts — usually the doubts of those whose belief in the permanence of an existing order is absolute. It is amazing how many people still remain convinced that it is wise to accept the status quo.
- We have faith in the power to change what needs to be changed but we are under no illusion that the transition from dictatorship to liberal democracy will be easy, or that democratic government will mean the end of all our problems. We know that our greatest challenges lie ahead of us and that our struggle to establish a stable, democratic society will continue beyond our own life span.
But we know that we are not alone. The cause of liberty and justice finds sympathetic responses around the world. Thinking and feeling people everywhere, regardless of color or creed, understand the deeply rooted human need for a meaningful existence that goes beyond the mere gratification of material desires. Those fortunate enough to live in societies where they are entitled to full political rights can reach out to help their less fortunate brethren in other areas of our troubled planet.
- Part of our struggle is to make the international community understand that we are a poor country not because there is an insufficiency of resources and investment, but because we are deprived of the basic institutions and practices that make for good government.
- There are multinational business concerns which have no inhibitions about dealing with repressive regimes. Their justification for economic involvement in Burma is that their presence will actually assist the process of democratization. But investment that only goes to enrich an already wealthy elite bent on monopolizing both economic and political power cannot contribute toward égalité and justice — the foundation stones for a sound democracy.
I would therefore like to call upon those who have an interest in expanding their capacity for promoting intellectual freedom and humanitarian ideals to take a principled stand against companies that are doing business with the Burmese military regime. Please use your liberty to promote ours.
Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech (2012)
- Nobel Lecture by Aung San Suu Kyi, Oslo, 16 June, 2012
- To be forgotten. The French say that to part is to die a little. To be forgotten too is to die a little. It is to lose some of the links that anchor us to the rest of humanity.
- Are we not still guilty, if to a less violent degree, of recklessness, of improvidence with regard to our future and our humanity? War is not the only arena where peace is done to death. Wherever suffering is ignored, there will be the seeds of conflict, for suffering degrades and embitters and enrages.
- If suffering were an unavoidable part of our existence, we should try to alleviate it as far as possible in practical, earthly ways.
- As you look at me and listen to me, please remember the often repeated truth that one prisoner of conscience is one too many.
- The peace of our world is indivisible. As long as negative forces are getting the better of positive forces anywhere, we are all at risk. It may be questioned whether all negative forces could ever be removed. The simple answer is: “No!” It is in human nature to contain both the positive and the negative. However, it is also within human capability to work to reinforce the positive and to minimize or neutralize the negative. Absolute peace in our world is an unattainable goal. But it is one towards which we must continue to journey, our eyes fixed on it as a traveller in a desert fixes his eyes on the one guiding star that will lead him to salvation. Even if we do not achieve perfect peace on earth, because perfect peace is not of this earth, common endeavours to gain peace will unite individuals and nations in trust and friendship and help to make our human community safer and kinder.
- Of the sweets of adversity, and let me say that these are not numerous, I have found the sweetest, the most precious of all, is the lesson I learnt on the value of kindness. Every kindness I received, small or big, convinced me that there could never be enough of it in our world. To be kind is to respond with sensitivity and human warmth to the hopes and needs of others. Even the briefest touch of kindness can lighten a heavy heart. Kindness can change the lives of people.
- ‘Donor fatigue’ expresses itself precisely in the reduction of funding. ‘Compassion fatigue’ expresses itself less obviously in the reduction of concern. One is the consequence of the other. Can we afford to indulge in compassion fatigue? Is the cost of meeting the needs of refugees greater than the cost that would be consequent on turning an indifferent, if not a blind, eye on their suffering? I appeal to donors the world over to fulfill the needs of these people who are in search, often it must seem to them a vain search, of refuge.
- Every thought, every word, and every action that adds to the positive and the wholesome is a contribution to peace. Each and every one of us is capable of making such a contribution. Let us join hands to try to create a peaceful world where we can sleep in security and wake in happiness.
Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought Acceptance Speech (2013)
- Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought Acceptance Speech by Aung San Suu Kyi, Strasbourg, 22 October 2013
- Freedom of thought ,…freedom of thought is essential to human progress. If we stop freedom of thought, we stop progress in our world. Because of this it is so important that we teach our children, our young people, the importance of freedom of thought. Freedom of thought begins with the right to ask questions. And this right our people in Burma have not had for so long that some of our young people do not quite know how to ask questions. One of the tasks we have set ourselves, in my party, the National League for Democracy is to teach our people to ask questions, not to accept everything that is done to them without asking why.
- Why is one of the most important words in any language. You have to know why the world is the way it is or you have to want to know. If you do not have this curiosity and if you do not have the intelligence in order to be able to express this curiosity in terms that others can understand than we will not be able to contribute to progress in our world. How many of our people over these past few decades ever ask themselves why that had to submit to the authority of people who did not have the mandate of the general public. I do not think very many did. It was taken for granted that those who had power and authority could do exactly as they please. This was something that we could not accept.
- Solidarity is a beautiful word because it means that you reach out to those who are different from you and who have to cope with different circumstances because we recognize that we all share the same human needs and same values. It is the values that count most of all. The value of freedom of thought, the value of democratic practices, the value of respect for your fellow human beings.
- I have never claimed that democracy was a perfect system because we human beings are not perfect. We are not capable of producing a system that is perfect. But I think there is something nice and challenging about imperfection. If we were all perfect I think it would be a very boring world. But as it is because we have to cope everyday with our imperfections everyday can become a day of excitement. You wake up and say to yourself now which one of my many imperfections shall I work on today and that makes it very interesting and very challenging. But it is more important that we work on the imperfections of societies and of laws and of practices that truly hurt us as human beings, that erode the foundation of human dignity.
- We all have to be responsible for ourselves. I accept the concept that respect for yourself must be the foundation of respect for others. It is only if you respect yourself as a human being and you have faith in your ability to achieve what should be achieved that you will be able to help others.
- I’ve always said there’s no hope without endeavor. Hope has no meaning unless we are prepared to work to realize our hopes and dreams but in order to that we do need to have friends. We need those who believe in us. Friends are those who believe in us and who want to help us whatever it is that we are trying to achieve.
- Unless we are free from fear we will not be able to give our children the kind of future that we would like them to have.
- We have to all come together and create unity out of diversity that the destiny that [we ]build will be one that is right not just for now but for generations to come.
- Whether we are Europeans, whether we are Asians, whether we are Africans, or Australians, or Americans, we are all one because of our shared common human values based on the belief that we have the right to the birth right of every human being which is a dignified and secure existence.
- Security, freedom, dignity, if we had these three we could say that it has been worth while being born into this world and I would like all the young people of Burma and young people all over the world to be able to feel that it was right that they have been born into this world.
- I would not like young people to ask this question, why were we born at all. I want them to ask every kind of question but for them to question why they have been born to a situation which does not assure them of their right to dignity and to freedom from want and from fear, that is not the kind of question I would want anyone to ask.
Quotes about Aung San Suu Kyi
- When the Burmese government tries to blame the victims for the crime, and say that Aung San Suu Kyi and her party are responsible for their own repression, I can only reply that much the same was once said about Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Vaclav Havel.
The world is not fooled.
- Aung San Suu Kyi serves as a reminder to us all that the commitment to nonviolence against aggressive violence, although deflected, cannot be ignored.
- Oscar Arias Former President of Costa Rica Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, 1987.
- What you've got they can't deny it. Can't sell it, can't buy it. Walk on, walk on. Stay safe tonight.
- Bono in "Walk On", a song dedicated to Aung San Suu Kyi.
- As a tireless champion of human rights and democracy in Burma, Suu Kyi inspires countless people around the world who strive for peace, justice and freedom.
In the face of great hardship she has never wavered in her commitment to peaceful change.
- Your determination and courage continue to inspire friends of freedom around the world.
Like your courageous father, you symbolize the authentic aspirations of the Burmese people. History is on the side of freedom throughout the world and I remain confident that your cause will prevail.
- Any person in any country who believes in the power of good, anyone who believes in justice, will stand by Aung San Suu Kyi. Because Aung San Suu Kyi is one of the non-violent, compassionate leaders of our time.
- Let the people decide, I've got nothing to hide, I've done nothing wrong, So why've I been here so long?
- Damien Rice in "Unplayed Piano", a song dedicated to Aung San Suu Kyi.
- With her courage and her high ideals, Aung San Suu Kyi brings out something of the best in us. We feel we need precisely her sort of person in order to retain our faith in the future.
That is what gives her such power as a symbol, and that is why any ill-treatment of her feels like a violation of what we have most at heart.
- Suu Kyi's struggle is one of the most extraordinary examples of civil courage in Asia in recent decades. She has become an important symbol in the struggle against oppression.
In awarding the Nobel Peace Prize for 1991 to Aung San Suu Kyi, the Norwegian Nobel Committee wishes to honour this woman for her unflagging efforts and to show its support for the many people throughout the world who are striving to attain democracy, human rights and ethnic conciliation by peaceful means.
- The Norwegian Nobel Committee (1991).
- In physical stature she is petite and elegant, but in moral stature she is a giant. Big men are scared of her. Armed to the teeth and they still run scared.
- We wish to use this opportunity, on the occasion of Aung San Suu Kyi's 60th birthday, to reaffirm our solidarity with the people of Burma and their legitimate struggle for democracy, human rights and civilian rule.
Our sister Laureate has spent almost 15 years under house arrest. Her determination and courage inspire us. We offer to her our heartfelt congratulations on this auspicious day.
Many of us have witnessed sweeping political changes in our own countries. We know that change will come to Burma, too. The illegal military junta that rules through force and fear will yield to the power of justice. The people of Burma will control their destiny again. But we also know from experience that tyranny does not crumble by itself. Freedom must be demanded and defended, by those who have been denied it and by those who are already free.