Meet the Laureates
Meet the Laureates

Aung San Suu Kyi – Burma 1991, Honorary Member

Aung San Suu Kyi (pronounced Ong San Soo Chee) was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 in recognition of her work in the nonviolent struggle for democracy and human rights in Burma. For 15 of the past 20 years, Suu Kyi was held under house arrest by the Burmese military junta after her political party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), won the 1990 general election in a landslide victory. The military junta refused to recognize the election results and placed Suu Kyi, along with other pro-democracy activists, under house arrest.  She was released from house arrest on November 13th, 2010. Upon release from house arrest, Aung San Suu Kyi accepted the invitation from Jody Williams, Chair of the Nobel Women's Initiative, and became an honorary member of the Initiative.

Aung San Suu Kyi was born June 19, 1945 in Rangoon, Burma, the daughter of General Aung San and Khin Kyi. Her father, a national leader who led Burma's fight for independence from Great Britain in the 1940s, was assassinated in 1947 when Suu Kyi was two years old.

After graduating from Oxford University in 1967, she worked for the United Nation's Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, and later as a Visiting Scholar at Kyoto University and a Fellow at the Indian Institute of Advanced studies.

Suu Kyi is founder and current General Secretary of Burma's pro-democracy political party, the National League for Democracy (NLD).

Suu Kyi felt compelled to join Burma's pro-democracy movement in 1988 after returning to visit her mother who was in ill health. Large demonstrations were taking place protesting the repressive one-party government. In September 1988 the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC), now the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), killed thousands of pro-democracy activists and seized power.

In the 1990 general election the NLD, under the leadership of Suu Kyi, challenged the ruling party and won with an overwhelming 80% majority. However, SLORC refused to recognize the election results and placed Suu Kyi, along with the elected pro-democracy leaders, under house arrest.

Even under the severe political constraints,  Suu Kyi continues her work for human rights in Burma. She has won numerous international awards including the Sakharov Prize from the European Parliament, United States Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Rafto Human Rights Price, and the Jawaharlal Nehru Award from India. She is the author of several books, including The Voice of Hope and Letters from Burma. In 2005 she was named by Forbes magazine as one of the World's 100 Most Powerful Women.

Jody Williams and Liz Bernstein, Nobel Women's Initiative Director, visited Aung San Suu Kyi at her home in February 2003, before she was re-arrested in May of that year. The only Laureate to visit Suu Kyi, Jody carried messages of support from numerous fellow Laureates. Suu Kyi personally urged them, as she does people around the world, to "please use your liberty to promote ours."

Nobel Peace Prize


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Read about Burma's political history and repression at the hands of the military regime in our Burma section.


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Video: Aung San Suu Kyi speaks on nonviolence


Please use your liberty to promote ours.

Human beings the world over need freedom and security that they may be able to realize their full potential.