Struggles: Sacrifices

She was isolated from the world

Aung San Suu Kyi says that she has made no sacrifices because every decision she has made has been a choice of her own free will. This certainly is a simplistic, modest, and unselfish view she has of herself, which only adds to her greatness.

There is no denying that Aung San Suu Kyi has made tremendous personal sacrifices on behalf of her people and on behalf of the ideals of democracy and human decency. From 1989 to 1995 she was put under house arrest by the military regime for regularly denouncing it in public. During most of her house arrest she was isolated from the world; the only things allowed to her were a radio and a maid.

She was not allowed to leave her family's home compound on University Avenue in Rangoon. A detail of armed guards was posted around her compound. The detail had to be changed regularly because the guards, after a period of time, became too friendly towards her; she was simply too affable. At one point in time, the government even took down the number on her house as if denying her a mailing address would erase her from existence.

During most of her house arrest she was isolated from the world. She initially received mail from her husband, Michael Aris, and two sons, but even those were discontinued. When Suu Kyi won the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize she was not officially informed of it. She only learned that she won the prize when she heard it broadcasted over the radio.

Perhaps what is so remarkable about Aung San Suu Kyi's house arrest was that at any point in time she could have left her prison. She could have left the country and returned to the warmth and safety of her family's embrace. But she chose not to do that.

She knew that 41 million people in Burma did not have the choice to leave whenever they wanted to. She knew that if she left, no one would have the prestige (her father's name) that would protect her from the regime's brutal hands yet allow her to stand up against it and be a symbol for her people.

Several times, Aung San Suu Kyi risked her health to stage hunger strikes. Most of these hunger strikes were to make the government promise that they would not torture political dissidents. She realized that hundreds of others were not so fortunate as to have her father's name or her growing international fame. She could not simply "disappear" on the radar like dozens of other political prisoners. She took advantage of her public prestige to protect her fellow dissidents. Her health became so bad, that her hair began falling out and she thought she might have a stroke. She conscientiously sacrificed her health.

The Ultimate Sacrifice

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