dasskspeechDaw Aung San Suu Kyi is one of the world's most renowned leaders, championing the rights of individuals, freedom and democracy in the face of a brutal dictatorship in Burma. The Burmese people call her "mother", indicative of the important and endearing role that she plays in her country.

It has been 24 years since she was thrown into the midst of the country's biggest political upheaval. She has spent over 15 of the last 23 years under house arrest.

Born on June 19th 1945 in Burma, she is the daughter of the country's independence hero, General Aung San. She was only two years old at the time of her father's assassination. As her mother was the Burmese ambassador to India and Nepal, Suu Kyi was always on the move, and she received her education in Burma, India, and the United Kingdom.

In 1988, while living in London, she returned to Burma to attend to her ailing mother, and was thrust into the forefront of the country's nationwide uprising, often referred to as the 8888 Uprising. She joined the newly-formed opposition political party, National League for Democracy and became the General Secretary of the party. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi made several public appearances, gave speeches and campaigned far and wide calling for freedom and democracy while exposing the Burmese military regime for its lack of legitimacy and competence.

Following the months of carnage and brutal crackdown, in an attempt to redeem whatever was left of their power and legitimacy, the military government called for general elections in 1990. Although the military junta tried to keep Daw Aung San Suu Kyi isolated from the Burmese people, her absence only made the hearts of the people grow fonder of her and her vision for a free and democratic Burma. Despite being under house arrest, her political party, NLD, won a landslide victory in the elections with a staggering 82% of seats in the parliament. The regime never recognized the results of the election and continues to silent and persecute voices of dissent in the country.

Aung San Suu Kyi has been in and out of arrest ever since 1988. She has spent many years under house arrest at her lakeside home-cum-prison, where her family once lived. She was detained from 1989 to 1995 and from 2000-2002.

In May 2003, her envoy was brutally attacked by government-backed thugs, in an incident referred to as Depayin Massacre (name derived from where the incident took place). Up to 100 of her supporters were believed to have been beaten to death by the regime's cronies. She was placed in prison and then moved to her house where she remained under house arrest until 2010.

On November 13, 2010 at 5pm local time, Aung San Suu Kyi was released from her house attention, after 7 years of lock-up. Tens of thousands of her supporters reportedly waited patiently outside her residence to get the first glimpse of the Lady of Burma once freed. She won a seat in Parliament in the April 2012 by-elections.

Aung San Suu Kyi has won numerous international awards. In 1991, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for being "one of the extraordinary examples of civil courage in Asia in recent decades." In 2008, the US Senate honored her with the Congressional Medal of Honour award, the highest civilian award in the continental US. Her other awards include Sakharov Prize from the European Parliament, the United States Presidential Medal of Freedom, and Jawaharlal Nehru Award from India.

Although San Suu Kyi has chosen the path of hardship, loss, and sacrifice, she once said in an interview,"I don't look upon it as a sacrifice. It's a choice. If you choose to do something, then you shouldn't say it's a sacrifice because nobody forced you to do it."