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The Nobel Peace Prize 1991
Aung San Suu Kyi

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Aung San Suu Kyi - Biographical

Since no biography was printed in Les Prix Nobel 1991, this chronology has been assembled by the editor.

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 had recovered from the rigours of the march into Burma.
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.
1947: July 19. General Aung San assassinated. Suu Kyi is two years old. Daw Khin Kyi becomes a prominent public figure, heading social planning and social policy bodies.
1948: January 4. The Independent Union of Burma is established.
1960: Daw Khin Kyi appointed Burma's ambassador to India. Suu Kyi accompanies mother to New Delhi.
1960-64: Suu Kyi at high school and Lady Shri Ram College in New Delhi.
1964-67: Oxford University, B.A. in philosophy, politics and economics at St. Hugh's College (elected Honorary Fellow, 1990).

British "parents" are Lord Gore-Booth, former British ambassador to Burma and High Commissioner in India, and his wife, at whose home Suu Kyi meets Michael Aris, student of Tibetan civilisation.
1969-71: She goes to New York for graduate study, staying with family friend Ma Than E, staff member at the United Nations, where U. Thant of Burma is Secretary-General. Postponing studies, Suu Kyi joins U.N. secretariat as Assistant Secretary, Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions. Evenings and weekends volunteers at hospital, helping indigent patients in programs of reading and companionship.
1972: January 1. Marries Michael Aris, joins him in Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, where he tutors royal family and heads Translation Department. She becomes Research Officer in the Royal Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
1973: They return to England for birth of Alexander in London.
1974: Michael assumes appointment in Tibetan and Himalayan studies at Oxford University.
1977: Birth of second son, Kim at Oxford.

While raising her children, Suu Kyi begins writing, researches for biography of father, and assists Michael in Himalayan studies.
1984: Publishes Aung San in Leaders of Asia series of University of Queensland Press. (See Freedom from Fear, pp. 3-38.)
1985: For juvenile readers publishes Let's Visit Burma (see Freedom from Fear, pp. 39-81), also books on Nepal and Bhutan in same series for Burke Publishing Company, London.
1985-86: Visiting Scholar, Center of Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University, researching father's time in Japan. Kim with her, Alexander with Michael, who has fellowship at Indian Institute of Advanced Studies at Simla in northern India.
1986: On annual visit to grandmother in Rangoon, Alexander and Kim take part in traditional Buddhist ceremony of initiation into monkhood.
1987: With fellowship at Indian Institute Suu Kyi, with Kim, joins Michael and Alexander in Simla. Travels to London when mother is there for cataract surgery.

Publishes "Socio-Political Currents in Burmese Literature, 1910-1940" in journal of Tokyo University. (See Freedom from Fear, pp. 140-164.) September. Family returns to Oxford. Suu Kyi enrolls at London School of Oriental and African Studies to work on advanced degree.
1988: March 31. Informed by telephone of mother's severe stroke, she takes plane next day to Rangoon to help care for Daw Khin Kyi at hospital, then moves her to family home on University Avenue next to Inya Lake in Rangoon.

July 23. Resignation of General Ne Win, since 1962 military dictator of Burma. Popular demonstrations of protest continuing.

August 8. Mass uprising throughout country. Violent suppression by military kills thousands.

August 15. Suu Kyi, in first political action, sends open letter to government, asking for formation of independent consultative committee to prepare multi-party elections.

August 26. In first public speech, she addresses several hundred thousand people outside Shwedagon Pagoda, calling for democratic government. Michael and her two sons are there.

September 18. Military establishes State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC). Political gatherings of more than four persons banned. Arrests and sentencing without trial reaffirmed. Parliamentary elections to be held, but in expectation that multiplicity of parties will prevent clear result.

September 24. National League for Democracy (NLD) formed, with Suu Kyi general-secretary. Policy of non-violence and civil disobedience. October-December. Defying ban, Suu Kyi makes speech-making tour throughout country to large audiences.

December 27. Daw Khin Kyi dies at age of seventy-six.
1989: January 2. Funeral of Daw Khin Kyi. Huge funeral procession. Suu Kyi vows that as her father and mother had served the people of Burma, so too would she, even unto death.

January-July. Suu Kyi continues campaign despite harassment, arrests and killings by soldiers.

February 17. Suu Kyi prohibited from standing for election.

April 5. Incident in Irawaddy Delta when Suu Kyi courageously walks toward rifles soldiers are aiming at her.

July 20. Suu Kyi placed under house arrest, without charge or trial. Sons already with her. Michael flies to Rangoon, finds her on third day of hunger strike, asking to be sent to prison to join students arrested at her home. Ends strike when good treatment of students is promised.
1990: May 27. Despite detention of Suu Kyi, NLD wins election with 82% of parliamentary seats. SLORC refuses to recognise results.

October 12. Suu Kyi granted 1990 Rafto Human Rights Prize.
1991: July 10. European Parliament awards Suu Kyi Sakharov human rights prize.

October 14. Norwegian Nobel Committee announces Suu Kyi is winner of 1991 Peace Prize.
1991: December. Freedom from Fear published by Penguin in New York, England, Canada, Australia, New Zealand. Also in Norwegian, French, Spanish translations.

December 10. Alexander and Kim accept prize for mother in Oslo ceremony. Suu Kyi remains in detention, having rejected offer to free her if she will leave Burma and withdraw from politics. Worldwide appeal growing for her release.
1992: Suu Kyi announces that she will use $1.3 million prize money to establish health and education trust for Burmese people.
1993: Group of Nobel Peace Laureates, denied entry to Burma, visit Burmese refugees on Thailand border, call for Suu Kyi's release, Their appeal later repeated at UN Commission for Human Rights in Geneva.
1994: February. First non-family visitors to Suu Kyi: UN representative, U.S. congressman, New York Times reporter.

September-October. SLORC leaders meet with Suu Kyi, who still asks for a public dialogue.
1995: July 10. SLORC releases Suu Kyi from house arrest after six years of detention.

In the last four years her movements have still been restricted. While she has had some opportunities to telephone her family in England, she is regularly denounced in the government-controlled media, and there is concern for her personal safety. Efforts to revive any NLD party activities have been balked, and its members have been jailed and physically attacked. In the first months after detention was ended, she was able to speak to large gatherings of supporters outside her home, but this was stopped. Yet her popularity in the country has not diminished.

Internationally her voice has been heard not infrequently. Reporters with cameras and videotape have been able to interview her in person, and telephone interviews with the media outside Burma have also been published. Using video cassettes she has sent out statements, including the keynote address to the NGO Forum at the U.N. International Women's Conference in Beijing in August 1995.

There have been a number of visitors from abroad, including a member of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, whom she told that Norway will be the first country she will visit when free to travel. SLORC has changed its name to the State Peace and Development Council, but its repressive policies and violation of human rights continue unabated.

Suu Kyi discourages tourists from visiting Burma and businessmen from investing in the country until it is free. She finds hearing for such pleas among western nations, and the United States has applied economic sanctions against Burma, but Burma's neighbours follow their policy of not intervening in the internal affairs of other sovereign states, and Burma has been admitted into the Association of South Eastern Asian Nations.

On March 27, 1999, Michael Aris died of prostate cancer in London. He had petitioned the Burmese authorities to allow him to visit Suu Kyi one last time, but they had rejected his request. He had not seen her since a Christmas visit in 1995. The government always urged her to join her family abroad, but she knew that she would not be allowed to return. This separation she regarded as one of the sacrifices she had had to make in order to work for a free Burma.

 

Selected Bibliography
By Aung San Suu Kyi
Freedom from Fear and Other Writings. Edited with introduction by Michael Aris. 2nd ed., revised. New York and London: Penguin, 1995. (Includes essays by friends and scholars.)
Voice of Hope: Conversations. London: Penguin, 1997 and New York City: Seven Stories Press, 1997 (Conversations beginning in November 1995 with Alan Clements, the founder of the Burma Project in California who helped with the script for the film based on her life, “Beyond Rangoon”.)
 
Other Sources
“Aung San Suu Kyi”, in Current Biography, February 1992.
Clements, Alan and Leslie Kean. Burma’s Revolution of the Spirit: The Struggle for Democratic Freedom and Dignity. New York: Aperture, 1994. (Many colour photographs with text, Includes essay by Aung San Suu Kyi.)
Clements, Alan. Burma: The Next Killing Fields. Tucson, Arizona; Odonian Press, 1992. (With a foreword by the Dalai Lama.)
Lintner, Bertil. Burma in Revolt: Opium and Insurgency since 1948. Boulder. Colorado: Westview, 1994. (By a well-informed Swedish journalist.)
Lintner, Bertil. Outrage: Burma’s Struggle for Democracy. 2nd ed., Edinburgh: Kiscadale, 1995.
Mirante, Edith T. Burmese Looking Glass. A Human Rights Adventure and a Jungle Revolution. New York: Grove, 1993.
Smith, Martin J. Burma: Intrangency and the Politics of Ethnicity. London: Zed Books, 1991. (A detailed and well-organised account by a journalist of the violent conflict between the military government and the many minorities.)
Victor, Barbara. The Lady: Aung San Suu Kyi: Nobel Laureate and Burma’s Prisoner. Boston and London: Faber & Faber, 1998. (A sympathetic account by a wellpublished author and journalist, whose research in Burma included interviews with government leaders.)

From Nobel Lectures, Peace 1991-1995, Editor Irwin Abrams, World Scientific Publishing Co., Singapore, 1999

This autobiography/biography was written at the time of the award and first published in the book series Les Prix Nobel. It was later edited and republished in Nobel Lectures. To cite this document, always state the source as shown above.

 

Copyright © The Nobel Foundation 1991
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