After spending 15 years of the past two decades under house arrest, Burmese political activist Aung San Suu Kyi is set to be released on Nov. 13. Widely recognized as a political prisoner, she has maintained hope and belief in democracy in the face of glaring injustice. To this extent, it has been reported by her lawyer that Suu Kyi will likely not accept a conditional release from house arrest.
With this in mind, the Rabble Book Lounge is going to revisit The Voice of Hope, a book based on conversations that Alan Clements had with Aung San Suu Kyi when she was initially released from house arrest in 1995. Focusing on Suu Kyi's unshakeable optimism, this book was revised and updated in 2008 and is still relevant now, perhaps more than ever.
Although born into politics in 1945, Suu Kyi's own political career began later in life. Her father, Aung San, played an instrumental part in negotiating Burma's independence from the United Kingdom and her mother Khin Kyi was a Burmese ambassador to India and Nepal. Educated outside of Burma, Suu Kyi returned to her home country in the late 1980s with a Ph.D. and work experience with the United Nations.
At this time Suu Kyi became involved in a growing democracy movement in Burma and was first placed under house arrest in 1988 for her political actions. Proving to be a committed leader, confinement to her home did not stop Suu Kyi's organizing work as she became the Secretary General of Burma's National League for Democracy (NLD). The NLD won 59 per cent of the votes in the 1990 national election, however, as Suu Kyi was under house arrest at the time, the election results were not officially recognized and the military's power prevailed.
Under various pretexts, Suu Kyi has been intermittently kept under house arrest since this time, impeding her ability to organize politically and even preventing her from seeing her children living abroad. This past week, on Nov. 7, elections were held in Burma (now known as Myanmar) for the first time in 20 years. Much controversy surrounds the results as military backed parties garnered the majority of votes, ensuring the military's continued power in the country.
Suu Kyi's now defunct party, the NLD, is still a strong social force in Burma and has created a committee that will look into the fraud allegations connected to the recent elections. Suu Kyi has expressed her disapproval with the recent electoral process and its contested results. She has reportedly vowed to help investigate the electoral fraud allegations upon her release.
At age 65 Suu Kyi's resilience and strength are undeniable. However, the political climate that exists on the eve of her release from house arrest leaves many skeptical about how long she will be free before the military finds another reason to hinder her freedom. With the world watching this situation, many question whether she will even be released at all.
For a more indepth look at this political activist's indomitable spirit and amazing history, stay tuned to Rabble's Book Lounge where Aung San Suu Kyi and Alan Clements' book The Voice of Hope will be reviewed. Rabble's interview with the book's co-author Alan Clements, the first American to be ordained as a Buddhist monk in Burma, is also forthcoming.
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