Aung San Suu Kyi

Born:June 19, 1945 (age 75)
Career:State counsellor of Myanmar, 2016-present
Leader of the Burmese Democracy Movement, 2016-present
Minister of foreign affairs, 2016-present
Minister of the President's office, 2016-present
President of the National League for Democracy, 2011-present
General secretary of the National League for Democracy, 1988-2011
Burmese House of Representatives, 2012-2016
Education:Oxford University
University of London

Aung San Suu Kyi serves as the first state counsellor of Myanmar and leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD) in Myanmar (previously known as Burma) and was a leader in the movement toward the reestablishment of democracy in that country. She remained under house arrest by the government for her activities for almost 15 of the 21 years from July 20, 1989, until November 13, 2010, becoming one of the world's most prominent political prisoners. In 1991, while under house arrest, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Since becoming state counsellor, Suu Kyi has been criticized over the persecution of the Rohingya people and for Myanmar's prosecutions of journalists.

Suu Kyi was born in Rangoon, Burma, on June 19, 1945. Her father is known as the founder of independent Burma (1948) and is beloved in that country. Her mother had been active in women's political groups before marrying Aung San, and the couple often hosted political gatherings in their home. In July 1947, Aung San and most of his cabinet were assassinated by members of an opposing political group.

Suu Kyi spent her early years in Burma. She later joined her mother, who was appointed as Burmese ambassador to India in 1960. She was partly educated in secondary school in India and then attended St. Hugh's College, Oxford University, in England. While there, she studied politics, economics, and philosophy and received her bachelor's and master's degrees. She also became influenced by the teachings of Indian leader Mohandas Gandhi (1869 to 1948), who was a believer in nonviolent civil disobedience.

For two years, Suu Kyi worked at the United Nations in New York, New York. In 1972, she married Michael Vaillancourt Aris, a scholar she had met while studying at Oxford. They had two sons and settled in England. She served as a visiting scholar at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University, Japan, from 1985 to 1986, and at the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies in Simla, India, in 1987.

After her mother suffered a stroke in 1988, Suu Kyi returned to Myanmar to help care for her. Later that year, there was a revolt against the overly strict administration associated with the militarily led Burma Socialist Party. In August 1988, Suu Kyi gained national recognition as the leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD), later opposed to the military-led SLORC. She became the general secretary of the NLD and was a speaker in favor of democracy throughout the country. As a result, she was placed under house arrest by the SLORC for attempting to split the army, a charge she denied.

Although Suu Kyi was not allowed to run for office in the May 1990 election, her party (the NLD) won 80 percent of the legislative seats. However, the winning candidates were never permitted to take office. In January 1994, the first visitor from outside of her family, U.S. Congressman Bill Richardson (D-NM), was allowed to meet with her. The United Nations called for her release, as did a number of other national and international groups, including Amnesty International, the worldwide human rights organization. She won many awards for democracy and human rights, including the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought (European Parliament, 1991), the Nobel Peace Prize (1991) and the International Simon Bolívar Prize (1992).

Suu Kyi remained under military watch and house arrest until July 1995, after which the government continued to restrict her movement both inside the country and abroad. She continued to serve as the vocal leader of the NLD and push for democracy. In 1999, Suu Kyi's husband died in England, after being denied permission by the Myanmar government to visit his wife during the last year of his life. The government suggested she go to visit him, but she remained at home, fearing that if she left, she would not be allowed to reenter the country.

In September 2000, she was again placed under house arrest after attempting to travel to rural areas outside Myanmar to meet with NLD members. In December 2001, Nobel Prize winners gathered in Oslo, Norway, to protest Suu Kyi's continued detention and signed an appeal to the Myanmar government requesting that she and fifteen hundred other political prisoners be set free. In May 2002, she was again released from house arrest, but was arrested again in May 2003. She was returned to house arrest until her final release in November 2010.

In April 2012, Suu Kyi was elected to parliament.