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Monday, 6 May, 2002, 10:45 GMT 11:45 UK
Sacrifices of Aung San Suu Kyi
Aung San Suu Kyi answers a question during a news conference, 6 May 2002
Aung San Suu Kyi has been released unconditionally
Nobel peace prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has made huge personal sacrifices in her struggle for democracy in Burma.

She has spent much of the past 14 years since she returned to Burma under house arrest in Rangoon.

She became one of the world's most famous political prisoners by refusing offers of freedom in exchange for exile.

Life in confinement
No telephone
Access to foreign radio broadcasts
Played piano
Worked on languages
Some visitors
When Aung San Suu Kyi's British husband Michael Aris was dying from cancer in 1999, the military authorities offered to allow her to travel to the UK to see her husband on his deathbed, and then to his funeral.

But she refused, for fear that the military government would refuse to allow her back into the country. She even missed his funeral rather than risk banishment from Burma.

She had not seen her husband for three years.

Aung San Suu Kyi, the daughter of Burma's assassinated independence hero Aung San, had always warned Michael, an academic at Oxford University, that if her country needed her she would do whatever she could.

Political upheaval

The two met when Aung San Suu Kyi was studying in Oxford. They married in 1972 and had two sons, Alexander and Kim.

Michael Aris and Aung San Suu Kyi
Aung San Suu Kyi's husband supported her actions
Aung San Suu Kyi returned to Burma alone in 1988, initially to nurse her dying mother. But she arrived just as popular demonstrations against the military broke out nationwide.

The demonstrations were crushed by the military and a new set of generals replaced the military dictator Ne Win. Aung San Suu Kyi was arrested in 1989, accused of inciting unrest and placed under house arrest for six years.

In 1990 while she was still confined, Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy won a landslide election victory that the junta refused to accept.

The opposition leader was released in July 1995 but remained under strict travel restrictions. She was again put under house arrest in September 2000 when she defied the restrictions and tried to travel to the central northern city of Mandalay.

During that second stint of house arrest, her telephone was cut off, but she was regularly able to meet top NLD leaders and visiting diplomats like the United Nations special envoy Razali Ismail.

She also had visits from her sons and grandson.

This was in stark contrast with the previous period of detention, when she was often in solitary confinement and for several years was not allowed to see her family.

Music fan

During a visit to her home in February 1994, she told then-US Congressman Bill Richardson that her life in detention was not physically harsh except that sometimes she had no money for food.

Aung San Suu Kyi
Aung San Suu Kyi refused to go into exile
While under house arrest, Aung San Suu Kyi kept busy by listening to foreign radio broadcasts, studying French and Japanese, and playing the piano.

She is a big fan of Bach, but is also said to have acquired new musical tastes while in detention, including US rock band The Grateful Dead and reggae singer Bob Marley.

While under house arrest, Aung San Suu Kyi kept to a strict routine, rising at 0430 to meditate, and going to bed at about 2130.

She has often said that the earlier period of detention made her more resolute and ready to dedicate the rest of her life to represent the average Burmese citizen.

On one occasion Aung San Suu Kyi said she did not at all like politics and preferred to be a writer.

"But once I had committed myself, then there cannot be any half measures," she said.

See also:

06 May 02 | Asia-Pacific
Aung San Suu Kyi freed
06 May 02 | Asia-Pacific
World welcomes Suu Kyi release
30 Apr 02 | Asia-Pacific
Hopes mount for Burma breakthrough
28 Apr 02 | Asia-Pacific
Burma talks 'make progress'
24 Apr 02 | Asia-Pacific
Q&A: Aung San Suu Kyi's release
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