(b. June 19, 1945, Rangoon, Burma [now Yangon, Myanmar])
The Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is the daughter of Aung San (a martyred national hero of independent Burma) and Khin Kyi (a prominent Burmese diplomat), and winner in 1991 of the Nobel Prize for Peace.
Aung San Suu Kyi was 2 years old when her father, then the de facto prime minister of what would shortly become independent Burma, was assassinated. She attended schools in Burma until 1960, when her mother was appointed ambassador to India. After further study in India, she attended the University of Oxford, where she met her future husband.
She had two children and lived a rather quiet life until 1988, when she returned to Burma to nurse her dying mother. There the mass slaughter of protesters against the brutal and unresponsive rule of the military strongman U Ne Win led her to speak out against him and to begin a nonviolent struggle for democracy and human rights.
In July 1989 the military government of the newly named Union of Myanmar placed Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest and held her incommunicado. The military offered to free her if she agreed to leave Myanmar, but she refused to do so until the country was returned to civilian government and political prisoners were freed. The newly formed group with which she became affiliated, the National League for Democracy (NLD), won more than 80 percent of the parliamentary seats that were contested in 1990, but the results of that election were ignored by the military government.
Aung San Suu Kyi was freed from house arrest in July The following year she attended the NLD party congress, but the military government continued to harass both her and her party. In 1998 she announced the formation of a representative committee that she declared was the country’s legitimate ruling parliament. The military junta once again placed her under house arrest from September 2000 to May 2002.
Following clashes between the NLD and pro-government demonstrators in 2003, the government returned her to house arrest. Calls for her release continued throughout the international community in the face of her sentence’s annual renewal. In August 2009, she was convicted of breaching the terms of her house arrest and sentenced to an additional 18 months. It is widely believed that the new conviction was designed to prevent Aung from participating in elections scheduled for 2010.