Defender of genocide axed by army | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 02, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:55 AM, February 02, 2021

Aung San Suu Kyi

Defender of genocide axed by army

After a lifetime struggling against Myanmar's military, 75-year-old Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi is back under detention with a junta in power –- although her international image no longer shines. 

She swept national elections last November and was preparing to begin another five-year term as the country's de facto leader. 

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But an early morning army raid and her detention in the capital Naypyidaw has brought her time at the helm to an apparent halt.

Suu Kyi, the daughter of independence hero General Aung San, spent nearly two decades enduring long stretches of house arrest under the former military regime.

Her legacy abroad has been deeply tarnished since she came to power in 2015.

Suu Kyi defended the army's rackdown on Rohingyas and even travelled to The Hague to rebut charges of genocide at the UN's top court.

Suu Kyi spent most of her early years outside of Myanmar, first in India, where her mother was an ambassador, and later at Oxford University.

Suu Kyi's elevation into a democracy champion happened almost by accident when she returned home in 1988 to nurse her dying mother. Soon afterwards, at least 3,000 people were killed when the military crushed protests against its authoritarian rule.

The bloodshed was the catalyst for Suu Kyi.  A charismatic orator, she found herself in a leading role in the burgeoning pro-democracy movement, delivering speeches to huge crowds as she led the NLD to a 1990 election victory.

The generals were not prepared to give up power, ignoring the result and confining to her home in Yangon, where she would live for 16 of the next 20 years.

She was released in 2010. After taking office in 2015, some critics have accused her of behaving in an authoritarian manner and political prisoner advocates say her government has prosecuted and jailed dozens of rights activists. However, she remains widely popular in Myanmar.

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