AP on Yahoo News is reporting that pro-democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi has been released from decades of house arrest.
Here are some facts about Suu Kyi, who went from being an housewife in England to a Nobel peace prize laureate incarcerated for 15 of the last 21 years because of her fight for democracy in the former Burma.
– Born in Rangoon (now Yangon) in June 1945, she is daughter of General Aung San, an independence hero assassinated in 1947. Her mother, Khin Kyi, was also a prominent figure.
– She studied politics in New Delhi and philosophy, politics and economics at Britain’s Oxford University. In 1972, she married British academic Michael Aris.
– Suu Kyi returned to Yangon in April 1988 to take care of her dying mother at a time of countrywide pro-democracy protests against the army regime. Keen to continue her father’s legacy, she entered politics and helped set up the National League for Democracy (NLD) party, becoming its secretary-general and calling for an end to military rule.
– The junta placed the charismatic and popular Suu Kyi under house arrest in July 1989 for “endangering the state.” The next year, even without her, the NLD won 392 of 485 parliamentary seats in Myanmar’s first election in almost 30 years. The military refused to relinquish power.
– Suu Kyi, awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, has been in prison or under house arrest off and on for 15 years since 1989.
Myanmar, formerly Burma, is a small country but rich in exploitable resources. American corporations have interests there. Several years ago my church sponsored an Amnesty International write-a-thon and we hosted a speaker who gave us a quick lesson in the history and politics.
I’m mentioning the corporations because we can support democracy with our dollar, with wise laws that make businesses accountable for what they do overseas, and with popular opinion. Aung San Suu Kyi was saved, in part, by her visibility. Organizations like Amnesty strive to let other, less famous, people know that they are not forgotten.
Our late minister, Tom Ahlburn, cued us in to the corporate connection, using the example of Pepsico.
I don’t know how things stand now, but what goes around comes around. We have a strong security interest in regulating our corporations when they represent us in unstable parts of the world.