Aung San Suu Kyi
Global Leadership Awards
Aung San Suu Kyi was born in Rangoon in 1945, the youngest child of Burma’s national hero, Aung San. When she was two years old, in the same year he won Burma’s independence from the British, her father was assassinated by political rivals. Aung San Suu Kyi grew up with her mother and two brothers. She was educated locally and attended colleges both in India and Oxford before earning her doctorate at the University of London.
In 1988, she returned to Burma to care for her ailing mother. That summer, a pro-democracy movement began to coalesce, in opposition to 26 years of military dictatorship. As the daughter of the great Aung San and an articulate spokesperson for democratic reform, Aung San Suu Kyi quickly became the face of the opposition.
A new political party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), was formed with Aung San Suu Kyi as secretary-general. As a groundswell of support from every corner of Burma gathered around her, the regime grew nervous. Ten months later, she was detained and placed under house arrest.
Even in detention, her message was clear. The people of Burma were hungry for democracy and a fair and just society. When the regime allowed elections in 1990, even with their leader under house arrest, the NLD won 82 percent of the seats in the Nat