Aung San Suu Kyi

Born:June 19, 1945 (age 79)
Career:State counsellor of Myanmar, 2016-2021
Minister of foreign affairs, 2016-2021
Minister of the President's office, 2016-2021
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 served as the first state counsellor of Myanmar from 2016-2021. On Feb. 1, 2021, she was arrested by the Myanmar military after they declared the November 2020 general election results fraudulent and imposed a one-year state of emergency.

Suu Kyi was born in Rangoon, Burma – now Yangon, Myanmar – 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, where she 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 1985-1986, 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. Later that year, there was a revolt against the 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 State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC). She became the general secretary (and later president) of the NLD and spoke in favor of democracy throughout the country. She was placed under house arrest on July 20, 1989, by the SLORC for attempting to split the army, a charge she denied. She remained under house arrest for almost 15 of the next 21 years, one of the world's most prominent political prisoners.

Although Suu Kyi was not allowed to run for office in the May 1990 election, the NLD won 80 percent of the legislative seats. However, the winning candidates were never permitted to take office. 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). She was finally released in November 2010.

In April 2012, Suu Kyi was elected to parliament, and in 2016 was elected state counsellor. While serving as state counsellor, Suu Kyi was criticized over the persecution of the Rohingya people and for Myanmar's prosecutions of journalists.

In the November 2020 parliamentary elections, the NLD won the majority, though the results were disputed by the military and the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP). On February 1, 2021 the new parliament was set to hold its first session, but the military seized power and arrested Suu Kyi and other NLD leaders. Vice. President Myint Swe became acting president and declared a one-year state of emergency and takeover of the government. Police filed charges against Suu Kyi for illegally imported walkie-talkies in her room and for violating the Myanmar’s natural disaster management law during the COVID-19 pandemic. As of a her sentencing on October 12, 2022, Suu Kyi has been sentenced to at least 26 years in prison and still faces charges from the Myanmar military.


The Nobel Prize (n.d.). “Aung San Suu Kyi – Facts” Nobel Prize Outreach. Retrieved October 24, 2022.

Pletcher, K. (1998, July 20). “Aung San Suu Kyi” Britannica. Retrieved October 24, 2022.

Reuters (2022, October 12). “Factbox: Legal cases against Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi” Reuters/ Retrieved October 24, 2022.