Author(s): Jesper Bengtsson
Aung Sun Suu Kyi was confined to house arrest in 1989 by the junta in Burma and since then she has been cut off from the world outside. Few people have seen or spoken to her during this time, yet despite her isolation and forced reticence, Suu Kyi - leader of Burma’s National League for Democracy and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize - remains an enduring symbol for hope and freedom to her supporters within Burma and abroad, and one of the most powerful symbols of human rights of our era. While her struggle has fascinated the whole world, it has also meant that she has been kept apart from her family. Her husband Michael Aris died in 1999 without their having been able to meet to say farewell to each other. Their sons, Alexander and Kim, have had to live most of their lives without any contact with their mother.
Who is she? And what drives her to make such huge personal sacrifices for her country? In Struggle for Freedom journalist and author Jesper Bengtsson draws a portrait of one of the most talked about political personalities of our times. He demonstrates that Aung Sun Suu Kyi’s magnetism is a matter of charisma and courage, but also that she personifies one of the major questions of our era: What conditions are necessary for the emergence of democracy out of profoundly authoritarian systems?
I have enjoyed reading Struggle for Freedom, a biography of Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi by Jesper Bengtsson. Suu Kyi has had a rich and politically diverse life living with the influence of being the daughter of Burma’s liberation hero Aung San. He was murdered in the 1940’s following the liberation of Burma from British colonial rule, on the eve of official independence. Though educated in England and married to an Englishman, Aung San Suu Kyi found herself drawn into politics when visiting her ill mother. Her subsequent house arrest by the ruling military junta for over 20 years and her current position as leader of the opposition party in Burma make for a very interesting read. I visited Burma just before the 1988 riots and it left a powerful impression. This book goes a long way to filling in the background story of an ongoing and painful struggle for independence. - Maclean
Jesper Bengtsson is a Swedish journalist and author. He has followed developments in Burma for more than ten years. Jesper is the chairman of the Swedish section of Reporters sans frontières [Reporters Without Borders].