Saturday, January 9, 2010

Peace Activist of the Week- Aung San Suu Kyi

Sorry I got behind on this one. I have a million posts in my head, but I know I need to get this one out.

Aung San Suu Kyi is the leader of the National League for Democracy in the country of Burma also known as Myanmar. She is the 1991 winner of the Noble Peace Prize. Suu Kyi has spent the past 14 years out of 20 under house arrest from the ruling junta (military coup) in Burma. Suu Kyi's family has always been political, but it wasn't until 1988 when visiting her ailing mother that Suu Kyi decided to become political and helped spear head the democratic movement. The Junta staged an election in 1990 where Suu Kyi became Prime Minister. She was immediately placed under house arrest (again).

Under house arrest, Suu Kyi is not allowed to meet with people of her political party. She is not allowed to receive visits except from her doctor. Her only companions are her maids. There have been moments when the junta has allowed Suu Kyi to leave the country, but she refuses because she is afraid that she will not be allowed to return. Her own husband died in Britain while she was under house arrest and her children remain in Britain.

Suu Kyi is heavily influenced by the non-violence movement promoted by Gandhi. She does not engage in acts of violence nor does she ask her followers to do so. In 2007, Buddhists monks, who are usually not involved in politics and are highly respected in Burman, protested the steep hikes of oil prices and human rights violations. This led to several military crack downs and raids and arrest of the monks. Recently the junta, feeling pressure world wide, has announced another election for 2010 and has allowed Suu Kyi to meet with her political advisers.

The junta is known for its many human rights violations. They have actively jailed political opponents and minority groups. They have also targeted minority groups for extermination. They have an unchecked judicial system and restrict Internet access to the outside world. Media censorship is prevalent. Forced labor, human trafficking, and child labor are common. The junta is also known to control their people through sexual violence including systematic rape and the taking of sex slaves.

For Aung San Suu Kyi's courageous persistence to have a better life for her country through non-violent means, I salute her as the Peace Activist of the Week.

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