We here at the Experiment are thrilled over the success of Aung San Suu Kyi’s visit to New York last week. The Burmese activist and global symbol of human dignity was honored at the Atlantic Council’s Global Citizen Awards Dinner last Friday for her devotion to democracy and human rights. On Saturday, Suu Kyi spoke at Queens College, urging audience members to exercise their democratic rights and vote in the upcoming election. As the New York Times reported, she told the crowd of nearly 2,000: “Dissidents can’t be dissidents forever; we are dissidents because we don’t want to be dissidents.” At the same event, Anjelica Houston read Suu Kyi’s essay Freedom From Fear and Carole King sang a rendition of “You’ve Got a Friend,” prompting an audience-wide sing-along.
After being released from fifteen years of house arrest in November 2010, Suu Kyi has finally been able to formally accept the honors she was awarded during her imprisonment, including the Congressional Gold Medal and the Nobel Peace Prize. After winning the Prize in 1991, Suu Kyi made her long-overdue acceptance speech in Norway this past June. Then, on September 18th, Hillary Clinton presented Suu Kyi with the Gold Medal—the highest honor Congress may bestow—which she was awarded back in 2008. Accepting the award, Suu Kyi said: “From the depths of my heart, I thank you, the people of America…for keeping us in your hearts and minds during the dark years when freedom and justice seemed beyond our reach.”
Known for her unwavering perseverance and eternal optimism, Suu Kyi was elected to the Burmese parliament the April after her release, proving the power of persistence and commitment. To get the full unbelievable story behind Burma’s biggest revolutionary hero—and how she went from rebel leader to political prisoner to Nobel Peace Prize laureate to stateswoman—pick up Peter Popham’s in-depth biography The Lady and the Peacock: The Life of Aung San Suu Kyi.