Daw Suu's Page

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi hero of Burma(Myanmar).
Leader of the nonviolent movement for human rights and democracy in Burma(Myanmar), and Nobel laureate.

In the good fight for peace and reconciliation, we are dependent on persons who set examples, persons who can symbolise what we are seeking and mobilise the best in us. Aung San Suu Kyi is just such a person. She unites deep commitment and tenacity with a vision in which the end and the means form a single unit. Its most important elements are: democracy, respect for human rights, reconciliation between groups, non-violence, and personal and collective discipline.

The sources of her inspiration, Sejersted explained, were Mahatma Gandhi, about whom she had learned when her mother was ambassador to India, and her father, Aung San, the leader in Burma's struggle for liberation. She was only two when he was assassinated, but she had made his life a center of her studies. From Gandhi she drew her commitment to nonviolence, from her father the understanding that leadership was a duty and that one can only lead in humility and with the confidence and respect of the people to be led. Both were examples for her of independence and modesty, and Aung San represented what she called "a profound simplicity."

We must add that undergirding her political philosophy in spirit and deed has always been her buddhist faith, which is also the foundation for her belief in human rights. In championing human rights in her political opposition to the military dictatorship, she needed to be fearless. Sejersted referred to the incident during her election campaigning when she courageously faced a detachment of soldiers, whose officer lined them up in front of her, prepared to fire if she continued to walk down that street, which she did.

Several times in his speech Sejersted cited the collection of her essays, entitled Freedom from Fear, which her husband, Michael Aris, edited and published before the ceremony, so that her voice could be heard beyond the reach of her oppressors. The title essay begins, "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." Fearlessness is the best response to governmental violence. In conclusion she writes that "truth, justice and compassion... are often the only bulwarks against ruthless power." These are the teachings of Buddha.

Sejersted told how Suu Kyi spent many years abroad, first when with her diplomat mother in her younger years, then studying at Oxford, working at the United Nations in New York, marrying Aris, a British Tibetan scholar, starting a family when they were in Bhutan, finally ending up in England, after scholarly assignments in Japan and India. Burma was always on her mind and heart, however, especially after the military seized power in 1962. When she married Aris, she told him that one day she must return to Burma when was needed.

It was to nurse her dying mother that she returned from England, but as the daughter of Aung San, she could not stay aloof when she saw the government brutally repressing a popular movement in opposition. She headed a political party in the elections which the military permitted, but she was so successful that even before election day, she was ordered confined to her home. Nevertheless, her party won by a great majority, after which its other leaders were jailed.

"We ordinary people, I believe," Sejersted declared, "feel that with her courage and her high ideals, Aung San Suu Kyi brings out something of the best in us... The little woman under house arrest stands for a positive hope. Knowing she is there gives us confidence and faith in the power of good."

As of this writing Suu Kyi is still under detention, separated from her family, despite efforts of many governments and the United Nations to secure her liberation. A group of Nobel peace laureates only got as far as Thailand in an attempt to bring their petition to the military dictators who hold her. In 1994, however, a U.S. congressman was permitted to see her, and, as a result of mediation by a Buddhist monk, she had a conference with members of the government. There is now more hope.

The face of the medal of the
Norwegian Nobel Committee.
Nobel Peace Prize for
Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar.
  The Norwegian Nobel Committee

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 1991 to Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar (Burma) for her non-violent struggle for democracy and human rights.

Aung San Suu Kyi is the daughter of Burma's liberation leader Aung San and showed an early interest in Gandhi's philosophy of non-violent protest. After having long refrained from political activity, she became involved in "'the second struggle for national independence" in Myanmar in 1988. She became the leader of a democratic opposition which employs non-violent means to resist a regime characterized by brutality. She also emphasizes the need for conciliation between the sharply divided regions and ethnic groups in her country. The election held in May 1990 resulted in a conclusive victory for the opposition. The regime ignored the election results. Suu Kyi refused to leave the country and since then, she has been kept under strict house arrest.

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 back of the medal of
the Norwegian Nobel Committ.
Nobel Peace Prize for
Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar.