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July Tue 10, 2012
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In a historic moment for the Republic of Myanmar, former political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi joined Parliament for the first time on Monday. Suu Kyi, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 spent 15 years under house arrest as a member of the opposition party, the National League for Democracy, in the years between 1989 and November 13, 2010, when she was released.On April 1, 2012, her party announced that she had been elected to the lower house of the Parliament of Myanmar, and that her party had won 43 out of the 45 seats. This is an historic event considering that the military has prevented the NLD from entering the government since 1990.In 1990, the military junta called for a general election, and the NLD received 59% of the votes and 80% of the seats in Parliament. However, the military refused to hand over power and put Suu Kyi, who many expected to become the Prime Minister, under house arrest. She was then awarded the Sakharov Prize for Free Thinking, the Rafto Prize and then the Nobel Peace Prize for “her non-violent struggle for democracy and human rights”.In 2008, there was a constitutional referendum and new elections, which the military backed parties claimed to have won. However, after that point, they made many reforms, which included the release of Suu Kyi, as well as new labor laws, a human rights commission, etc. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited the country as a sign of approval, as she was the first foreign ambassador to visit in over fifty years.This all led up to the historic vote on April 1. While even that election was reported to be irregular, the activists of the NLD party declared that they would stop boycotting the government and begin to participate in the working of the government. Suu Kyi spent her first day in Parliament listening carefully, and the world is waiting to see what she will do in the future.Since she was under house arrest at the time of the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize, her sons Alexander and Kim accepted the Prize for her. On June 19, 2012, exactly three weeks ago, Suu Kyi made the trip to Norway to accept the Prize and give a speech 21 years later. See the video of her speech on the next page.
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