The leader of Burma’s democracy movement, Aung San Suu Kyi, has joined Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, and the Dalai Lama in the global pantheon of those whose lives are dedicated to freedom. Throughout the world, she is associated with a peaceful struggle for democracy and human rights. But what is she really like? What drives her to make such enormous personal sacrifices for her country?
Jesper Bengtsson presents a portrait of one of today’s most significant political activists. He chronicles her background as the daughter of Burma’s liberation hero Aung San, the years she spent in England and New York, and her return to Burma in the 1980s. First placed under house arrest by the military junta in 1989, she spent 15 of the subsequent 21 years in captivity, separated from her husband and two children.
Throughout that period, she remained a unifying figure and activist for Burma’s democracy movement. Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, she saw her reputation and her international stature grow the longer she was under house arrest. Upon her release in November 2010, she immediately took up her work with the democracy movement and proved that she remains the most important political force in Burma.
Aung San Suu Kyi’s ability to affect people and repressive regimes reflects not only her personal charisma and courage but also her devotion to one of the great issues of our times: What is necessary for democracy to evolve from a deeply authoritarian system?