One of my heroines Aung San Suu Kyi arrived in the UK yesterday on her 67th birthday. She is on a two-week long tour around Europe and on Saturday collected her Nobel Peace Price in Oslo, 21 years after it was awarded to her in 1991.
In 1988 she was an Oxford housewife, raising her two young sons. However when she returned to Burma to nurse her sick mother, she became the leader of Burma's pro-democracy movement. During the last 24 years there have been several assassination attempts on her life, her supporters have been killed or imprisoned and she was placed under house arrest for 15 years. Yet she persevered and carried on fighting for democracy and speaking out against the regime. In 1999 she faced an impossible choice; to either leave Burma forever to nurse her dying husband or stay in Burma to fight against the regime. She chose the latter and was rewarded by being elected to parliament in April with her party winning 43 out of the 45 seats contested in by-elections. The next landmark for her is Burma's 2015 general election and if they are free and fair then she will probably be elected to lead Burma's government.
For the first time in 24 years she has been able to leave Burma, trusting President Thein Sein's promise that she will be allowed to return after her tour.
After being awarded an honorary degree in 1991 from her old university of Oxford, she finally collected it today- its citation said:
“Here you studied and formed friendships, here you knew the delights of youth, here as a wife and mother you lived a quiet domestic life, until your love of your country and passion for the cause of freedom summoned you back.
But you were forced to leave behind a beloved husband and children, so that your return to your native land was made into a kind of exile.
For many years you bore the burden of isolation, displaying patience and endurance to a degree no easily imagined.
Your silence has sounded longer than the jabber of politics and the clang of military power.
Out of deep darkness your little lamp has shone across the planet. Your stillness has moved the world.
Sitting in this theatre, we are conscious that we are also spectators of a drama played in the theatre of the nations, one whose ending is as yet unsure.”
This citation provides a poignant reminder that her political struggle for freedom is not yet over in Burma and that we all have a duty to support 'The Lady' with her ongoing fight.