Aung San Suu Kyi’ s career took another dramatic turn Monday as a court in Myanmar sentenced the ousted leader to four years in prison — before subsequently reducing it to two years — after convicting her of incitement and breaching coronavirus restrictions. Other cases against her are pending.
It was just a year ago that her National League for Democracy party won a landslide election victory that would have put her and her party back in office for a second consecutive five-year term after decades of army-dominated rule.
The military seized back power on Feb. 1, arresting Suu Kyi and scores of others, and plunging Myanmar into turmoil after a brief period of stability and promises of more democracy.
Suu Kyi’s career has been marked by highs — winning the Nobel Peace Prize — and lows — spending 15 years in house arrest under a previous military government.
Her father was Aung San, the country’s independence hero. His assassination in 1947 just months before Myanmar — then called Burma — was freed from British colonial rule prefigured the country's extended turbulence.
Suu Kyi in early adulthood led an expatriate’s life after marrying Oxford University scholar Michael Aris, with whom she had two sons.
She plunged into her country's politics in 1988 when she returned to her homeland to take care of her dying mother as large protests were breaking out against the military dictatorship of Ne Win. She helped found the National League for Democracy, but paid a price in 1989 when she was put under house arrest, where she would spend 15 of the following 22 years.
Her fame spread in 1991 when she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, but it took 21 years until she won a seat in a parliamentary by-election.
A landslide victory in a 2015 general election put her party in power. Barred from becoming president under constitutional rules drafted by the military, the post of state counsellor was created to allow her to became the country’s leader.
International admirers of her struggle for democracy dropped away after she went to the International Court of Justice in December 2019 to defend the army's brutal 2017 counterinsurgency campaign against the Muslim Rohingya minority in western Rakhine state.
In the November 2020 general election, her party won even more seats than it did five years earlier. But the military disputed the vote and forced her from power.