As Myanmar’s military junta sentences Aung San Suu Kyi to another year of house arrest, the publication of her biography is an apt reminder of both her personal and political struggle
Yesterday Aung San Suu Kyi was sentenced to another year under house arrest in Yangon. The 61 year old political opposition leader has been in detention since 2003 and denied since 1990 of being able to form a democratically elected government after winning Myanmar’s general election. You can find plenty of coverage and explanation of the background to Suu Kyi’s detention on Google News.
I bought a copy of Justin Wintle’s biography of Aung San Suu Kyi, Perfect Hostage, a couple of weeks ago to read while I was travelling in Australia. I didn’t get to it in the end (I was engrossed in Steve Coll’s Ghost Wars, which is a fascinating if terrifying crash course in the recent history of Afghanistan and the rise of Osama Bin Laden – the usual light beach reading) but I will be taking Perfect Hostage with me when I go away again this week.
Perfect Hostage is the first major biography of Suu Kyi, and as her life is inextricably bound up with the fate of her country, it’s obviously also a biography of sorts of Myanmar itself under military dictatorship since 1962. Since my own backpacking trip in Myanmar, I’ve become a lot more interested in Burma’s history, both in its recent troubled times but also its ancient splendour at the turn of the first millennium and the British colonial period too. Perfect Hostage seems like a good place to start with getting an overview of Suu Kyi’s and Myanmar’s current struggles.
Suu Kyi famously once said that tourists shouldn’t go to Myanmar as their money would only help support the regime – the debate still rages about whether it’s ethical to visit Burma or not, but speaking personally, through visiting Burma I’ve learnt far more about the country and its political woes that I ever would have if I’d boycotted it.