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Myanmar’s Historic Election

November 20th, 2015

Aung San Suu Kyi. Photo credit: Claude TRUONG-NGOC via Wikimedia Commons

History has been a long time in the making for Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi (pronounced: Ong sahn soo shee).

Myanmar is pronounced Mee-ann-mahr.

The 70-year old’s political party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), won elections there last week in a landslide — in a country that has been heading toward democracy but where the military has been in power for a very long time and didn’t allow for fair elections.

She has dedicated much of her life trying to bring democracy to her country so the 50+ million people who live there could have greater freedoms, including choosing their own leader. They chose her.

But it’s been a rough road .

Her father was a key leader in Myanmar gaining independence from Britain and Japan. He was killed for his efforts when Aung San Suu Kyi was a toddler.

Myanmar was called Burma back then.

The military took over.

Aung San Suu Kyi spent her life living outside of Myanmar, including India and New York City. She was educated at Oxford in the United Kingdom and worked at the United Nations. She got married to a British man, Michael Aris, and had two boys.

She eventually ended up back in Myanmar to care for her sick mother. And she rallied for democracy while she was there. Her influences where Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. — leaders who tried to bring about change peacefully.

She was placed under house arrest, meaning her house was her jail — she couldn’t leave. She spent 15 years that way (on and off) and won the Nobel Peace Prize in the process. The Nobel committee said she was “an outstanding example of the power of the powerless.” She became an international symbol for democracy and peaceful resistance.

Her husband in the meantime, who was still in Britain, became very sick and was dying. She had a very difficult choice to make. She could go care for him … but most likely not be allowed back in Myanmar to continue her important work. Or she could stay and keep up her efforts. Ugh, not a decision we would want to have to make!

She stayed. Her husband passed away two years later. She didn’t get to see him before he died. She didn’t see her kids for many years either.

All of her hard work and sacrifice was finally realized with last week’s elections.

With one (major) glitch.

The military recognized the election results but had previously written into its constitution that if you have a husband, wife, or children who were born outside of Myanmar … you can’t be the president. WHAT!!! After ALL that!

It seems to have been written into the constitution just for her.

She said that regardless of that technicality, she will find a way to honor the historic election … and lead her country.

It doesn’t mean everyone there is happy or satisfied and there is a lot of work to be done , but many there believe Myanmar is finally headed in the right direction.

60 Minutes did a great piece on this right before the election.

HTE previously did a story on developments in Myanmar in 2012.

Myanmar. Photo credit: www.bigstockphoto.com

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