Aung San Suu Kyi

Sakharov Prize Laureate 1990
suu-kyi-1 Aung San Suu Kyi's leadership of Burma/Myanmar's pro-democracy struggle was recognised by the Sakharov Prize in 1990. Twenty-three years later, on 22 October 2013, Aung San Suu Kyi was finally able to receive the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in person.

In a solemn ceremony at the European Parliament, addressing the elected representatives of 28 Member States, Aung San Suu Kyi made an impassioned case for democratic values, emphasising that Burma's transition towards them remains far from complete. The current constitution, she said, ensures a privileged role for the military which must be reformed in order to guarantee the right of Burmese citizens to 'live in accordance with their conscience' and to 'shape their own destiny'.

She called for the support of the international community to continue to aid the development of democracy and human rights in Burma, and thanked the European Parliament's longstanding support for her cause.

Daughter of Aung San, a national hero of independent Burma, who was assassinated when she was two, and Khin Kyi, a prominent Burmese diplomat, Suu Kyi witnessed a brutal crackdown on protesters opposing U Ne Win's military regime when she returned to Burma to nurse her dying mother in 1988. The massacres led her to begin her non-violent struggle for democracy and human rights.

In 1990 her National League for Democracy won an overwhelming victory in the country's election, but the military junta not only refused to hand over power but cracked down on the League's supporters with arrests and bloody reprisals. Suu Kyi spent most of the following two decades after 1990 in prison or under house arrest and during this time, the authorities refused her husband a visa to visit her in Myanmar, despite the fact he been diagnosed with cancer. They urged her to leave the country instead, but anticipating that she would not be allowed to return, she refused, and did not see her husband again to his death in 1999. She was still under house arrest during Myanmar's first elections in two decades in 2010, but was released six days later. As the country began democratic reforms, she stood for a parliamentary by-election in April 2012, in which her party won 43 out of the 45 seats available, making her the leader of the parliamentary opposition.

Aung San Suu Kyi is now fighting for a reform of the constitution that would allow her to run for the country's presidency.