Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Aung San Suu Kyi's Release - Heart of the Matter II

                                       Aung San Suu Kyi

I believe the tiniest seeds were sown, or at least the soil is being prepared for democracy in Burma over the weekend following the release of Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest on Novemeber 13th 2010. Leader of the National League for Democracy Party, she spent 15 years from the 1989-2010 period of her life incarcerated at her home. (An immensely gifted, highly intelligent, patriotic woman cooped up within the walls of her home for 15 years! What a monstrous waste!)

Her father Aung San founded the modern Burmese Army and negotiated Burma's independence from the British Empire in 1947 and was assasssinated by rivals later the same year. Her mother Khin Kyi took a prominent part in the new Burmese government, becoming ambassador to India. Following her mother to India, Aung San Suu Kyi achieved a degree in politics, then moving to London to continue her education, she obtained a BA degree in Philosophy, going on to earn a PhD at the School for Oriental and African Studies University London in 1985. She married Dr. Michael Aris in 1972 and had two sons, Alexander and Kim. In 1988, she returned to Burma to take care of her ailing mother.

                                   8888 Uprising

By coincidence, in the same year, the long-time military leader of Burma and head of the ruling party, General Ne Win, stepped down. This led to mass demonstrations for democracy on 8 August 1988 (8-8-88, a day seen as auspicious), which were violently suppressed in what came to be known as the 8888 Uprising. On 26 August 1988, she addressed half a million people at a mass rally in front of the Shwedagon Pagoda in the capital, calling for a democratic government. However in September, a new military junta took power. Later the same month, 24 September 1988, the National League for Democracy (NLD) was formed, with Suu Kyi as general secretary.

Influenced by both Mahatma Gandhi's philosophy of non-violence and by more specifically Buddhist concepts, Aung San Suu Kyi entered politics to work for democratization, helped found the National League for Democracy on 24 September 1988, and was put under house arrest on 20 July 1989. She was offered freedom if she left the country, but she refused. The general election of 1990 saw her party winning 59% of the vote and 81% of government seats, but the results were nullified creating an international outcry. During her house arrest, Aung San Suu Kyi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize; the 1.3 million dollars was used to set up a health and education trust for the Burmese people.

                                     Mahatma Gandhi

The last time that she saw her husband Dr, Michael Aris was Christmas 1995. They had only seen each other 5 times during the period of 1989 - 1995. In 1997, Aris was diagnosed with prostrate cancer, but the Military Junta would not grant him a visa to travel to Burma, even after the intervention of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and Pope John Paul II. The Junta agreed to grant Aung San Suu Kyi a temporary release to visit her husband, but she refused to go, because she didn't believe the Military Junta would allow her to return to Burma. Her husband died in 1997 and she was separated from her sons, who are both residing in the UK.

One of her most famous speeches is the "Freedom From Fear" speech, which 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."

She also believes fear spurs many world leaders to lose sight of their purpose. "Government leaders are amazing", she once said. "So often it seems they are the last to know what the people want."

I watched an interivew between herself and John Simpson on BBC last night, and was absolutely captivated by this woman, the nature of her forgiveness, and all that she stands for! When I read a little of her story, I was reminded of Veronica Guerin, the Irish crime journalist, who was assassinated by drugdealing criminals in 1996; the sacrifices she made for what she believed in, and the criticism that both women have received as a result.

Surely REAL CHANGE comes about by huge individual SACRIFICE  and FORGIVENESS!

Was initially going to use the word 'unforgiveable' in relation to Aung San Suu Kyi's house arrest, but decided against it. There can be no progress in any area of our lives without sacrifice or forgiveness.

As in my last blog which referred to the physical health of the heart; so, too, must we look after the emotional well-being of our heart, which has to begin with forgiveness and the ability to say 'sorry'.

I have been encouraged by the release of Aung San Suu Kyi into thinking that just maybe the craziness that seems to have stitched up this whole darn world might be starting to unravel !!!

I shall be watching Aung San Suu Kyi's return to the political life of Burma with huge interest and in the hope that one day she will become President.

In conclusion, a dear friend sent me this link in relation to my last blog, 'The Heart of the Matter'. It is a song of the same title by India Arie. Enjoy!


Ciao for now!

1 comment:

Sara (from Saving for Someday) said...

Hi Maureen,

You posted ahead of me on SITS, and I'm the lucky one! What a beautiful and well written posts about Aung San Suu Kyi.

I first learned about her about 7 years old when my daughter received a book for her 1st birthday about notable women of the 20th century. Aung San Suu Kyi is one of the women mentioned. Over the last 7 years my daughter and I have learned more about her and were both so pleased to hear of her release.

I'm looking forward with my daughter to write our own update to her page in the book.

Thank you for being part of SITS and sharing this beautiful post.