Aung San Suu Kyi: Change through Nonviolence

by RimaAlha on March 30, 2015 - 8:04pm

Aung San Suu Kyi, an activist from Burna, works to bring democracy to her military-ruled country since 1988. Her father, General Aung San, brought independence to this country and was murdered only 6 months before it became official, when Aung San Suu Kyi was only two. She thus went to live in India and studied later in the UK before coming back to Burma due to her mother’s illness. She arrived in Rangoon, capital of Burma, while the city was in a political outburst. Gandhi and Martin Luther King being her major influences as leaders of pacific campaigns, she could not stand and do nothing. Her revolt thus started on the 26 August 1988. In 1990, her NLD party (National League for Democracy) won the national elections, but their overwhelming victory was not recognized and the junta (military in Burna) remained in power. Until November 2010, she kept returning in prison for each of her non-violent campaigns around the country. She rejected the authorities’ offer to get out the country even if it meant not seeing her ill husband, scared that they would not let her reenter Burma afterward. She will be running for presidency in November 2015.

Aung Sann Suu Kyi broke several laws in her own country, as the ban on political gatherings of more than four persons. She openly asked the government to form an independent committee to organize the democratic elections. Her efforts were awarded with a Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 and she is now considered as the symbol of her people’s desire and perseverance to be free. She calls on the citizens around the world to “use your [their] liberty to promote ours” (Ramos-Horta par.2). She helped her people raise themselves above fear and violence to gain liberties. She also showed that only hope serves nothing: “I think by now I have made it fairly clear that I am not very happy with the word ‘hope.’ I don't believe in people just hoping. We work for what we want” (Ramos-Horta par.1). Her impact became worldwide thanks to her Nobel Prize. She is now seen as one of the most tenacious Freedom Fighters in the world and an icon of defenders of human rights.

However, she does not only inspire young minds and encourage us to fight for our rights. She tells us how to do it: pacifically. Like Gandhi and Martin Luther King before her, she knows that real change does not happen when violence is used. Her strategy could help Syrian revolutionaries. They started pacifically too in March 2011, convinced that the government would compromise, but it did not. In July 2011, the Free Syrian Army (FSA) was formed: the first organized attempt at armed position against Bachar Al Assad (Manfreda par.1). Since then, the Muslim Brotherhood has been financing the FSA (Oweis par. 13) because both have one goal: the government’s fall. Now, even if the motives of the Free Syrian Army are completely different from the Brotherhood’s (one wants freedom and the other the Sharia), the world sees both as part of ISIS (an Islamic extremist rebel group having nothing to do with FSA or the Brotherhood). Thus, the International Community has reasons NOT to help Syrians. Russia, for example, uses the true fact that rebels arm themselves to prevent any kind of intervention from the UN. If the rebels would have stayed pacific, Russia would not be able to use its veto without being blamed more than it already is. Also, the whole country is now a bloody bath. It is not considered as a revolution anymore, such as in Burna, but as a civil war between ISIS and the government. Of course, lots of people would have died at first if rebels did not arm themselves, but how many more were killed because of constant attacks made by both parts. If all revolutionaries would have done what Aung San Suu Kyi did, there would be maybe less than 200 000 deaths (AFP par.1). Of course, it is not a certainty, but there is one according to Ms. Suu Kyi: “A revolution simply means great change, significant change, and that’s how I’m defining it—great change for the better, brought about through non-violent means” (Macdonald par. 8).



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Macdonald, Nancy. "Aung San Suu Kyi in Conversation." Macleansca. Sandra Parente, 20 Dec. 2010. Web. 30 Mar. 2015.

Manfreda, Primoz. "Syria's Armed Opposition: Free Syrian Army." Aboutnews. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Mar. 2015.

Oweis, Khaled Yacoub. "Syria's Muslim Brotherhood Rise from the Ashes." Reuters. Thomson Reuters, 06 May 2012. Web. 30 Mar. 2015.

Ramos-Horta, José. "Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace Prize, Burma Freedom Fighter: United for Human Rights." Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace Prize, Burma Freedom Fighter: United for Human Rights. United for Human Rights, n.d. Web. 30 Mar. 2015.