Struggles: An Introduction

In Burma the fear could be seen in their eyes.

Madeleine Albright, former U.S. Secretary of State, once made an observation that the people of Burma smile all the time--they smile all the time because they wish to hide their fear.

Burma, officially known as the Union of Myanmar, is currently under the control of a military junta, who like to call themselves the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC). But don't let the warm and cuddly name fool you. It is one of the most oppressive governments in the world. For in Burma, Big Brother is really looking out for you. The phones are often monitored and a form needs to be filled even if one is staying one night at a friend's house. The Internet is illegal and the country's only newspaper, The New Light of Myanmar, is heavily censored and is mostly a government propaganda machine. No one in Burma is allowed to criticize the government. To do so would mean imprisonment. No one dares open his mouth to voice the truth. Government informers are everywhere. The tatmadaw keeps the population in a state of fear.
The tatmadaw keeps the population in a state of fear.

"It's very hard to say what the people of Burma think because if they open their mouths and say something, they end up in jail...a 77-year-old lawyer was sentenced to 20 years in prison because he had written on the back of a book, 'We have no freedom. Our mouths are sealed.' It was enough to sentence a 77-year-old man away for the rest of his life in prison. And no one in Burma really dares to criticize the government openly," said Bertil Lintner, author of Burma in Revolt, during a National Public Radio interview. The incident that Lintner described happened last year. (Read or Listen to the January 10, 2001 audio segment from All Things Considered. Courtesy of NPR. 4:54. Requires RealPlayer)

On the campaign trail in 1989.
On the campaign trail in 1989.
In this environment of fear and paranoia one woman particularly stands out, drawing much needed international attention to her economically and politically stricken country. Aung San Suu Kyi, since her arrival to Burmese politics in 1988, has traveled a long and rocky road. She has been arrested and put into isolation. She has made personal sacrifices that go beyond what is expected of any individual. She has been a constant throughout her struggles and has never wavered in her dreams for freedom for her people. Her country's struggles are her struggles. Her beliefs have become the beliefs of the Burmese people.

In Freedom from Fear, Aung San Suu Kyi, says that "courage comes from cultivating the habit of refusing to let fear dictate ones actions." Suu Kyi's philosophy enables her to conquer her fear and speak out against the ruthless military junta. Her own actions and struggles empower her people to bravely struggle on in the hopes that one day they will be free.

Aung San Suu Kyi's Struggles:
State of Fear - Learn about the situation in her country.
Freedom - Learn about her struggle to attain freedom for her people.
Sacrifices - Learn about what she has given up for love of her country.

Photograph1: (The tatmadaw keeps the population in a state of fear) The brutal tatmadaw is known for murdering political dissidents and persecuting ethnic minorities. Source:
Photograph2: (On the campaign trail in 1989) Aung San Suu Kyi has traveled a long and rocky road in her struggle to ensure democracy for her people. In 1989, Suu Kyi defies government campaign bans to travel around Burma and meet her constituents. In the 1990 elections, her National League for Democracy party, wins more than 80 percent of the parliamentary seats. Source: Freedom from Fear.

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