Myanmar, popularly known as Burma, a nation in South Asia, will be the focus of the world's attention today evening. The entire world is looking forward to the release of its Democracy Champion - Aung San Suu Kyi - from captivity.
Burma had been a colonial territory for the British for a long period of 62 years - right from 1886 to 1948.
And like India, when it gained independence in 1948, a democratic government took over the reins of the nation - hoping for a peaceful future.
In a twist of fate, democracy came to an end in 1962, when the military junta took over the nation with a coup. And since then, till date, Burma continues to be under the rule of the military junta.
The junta pursued a particular technique of Socialism during its rule. Needless to say, the rule by the junta was hugely unpopular. Protests against the military rules were the order of the day. But in most cases, they were quelled.
After widespread protests in 1988 - under the 8888 Uprising - elections were planned in Burma. And for the first time in 30 years, elections were held in Burma.
In 1988, a political party by the name National League for Democracy was formed. It's secretary was none other than Aung San Suu Kyi. She took up the cause of the democracy in the nation.
Sensing her widespread popularity, she was put under house arrest on 20 July 1989. She was offered a release from the virtual prison if she promised to leave the nation. She refused - showcasing the abilities of a great leader.
In the 1990 elections, her party won more than 80% of the parliament seats. And as the leader, Suu Kyi was all set to become the Prime Minister.
As it normally happens, the military junta refused to accept the verdict of the people. They refused to hand over the leadership of the country to Suu Kyi. The lust of power took them over and they nullified the results of the election.
They also placed Suu Kyi under house arrest. And since then, Aung San Suu Kyi has been an icon of the Burmese democratic struggle.
The military junta has been extremely oppressive - having put Suu Kyi under house arrest for almost 14 years in the last two decades. And in this period, she has not been allowed to meet the leaders from her party as well as international visitors.
Suu Kyi's fight for freedom is widely acknowledged across the world. She receives tremendous support from the big daddies of world politics. The UN too has been supporting her cause.
She won the Noble Peace Prize in the year 1991 itself - for her for her non-violent struggle for democracy and human rights.
In awarding the Nobel Peace Prize for 1991 to Aung San Suu Kyi, the Norwegian Nobel Committee wishes to honor this woman for her unflagging efforts and to show its support for the many people throughout the world who are striving to attain democracy, human rights and ethnic conciliation by peaceful means.
-- Oslo, 14 October 1991
She is also popularly remembered for her flamboyant "Freedom From Fear" speech - which she started with the lines below.
"It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it."
Here's a quick look at some of the most important points in Suu Kyi's life in the last 20 years - courtesy the BBC
The tremendous international pressure on Burma for release of Suu Kyi with continuous follow up by the international media has finally paid off.
On 1st October 2010, the military junta announced that Aung San Suu Kyi would be release on 13th November 2010. And that day is today.
And we all hope that in the final hours, the junta keeps upto it's promise and releases the icon of the Burmese democratic struggle.
Suu Kyi is just 45 years of age. And with her wealth of experience from the last 22 years, and a bright future that the world hopes for Burma, Suu Kyi could just be the leader who could transform the nation and takes her to greater heights.
A bright future beckons Burma.
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