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“Freedom from Fear”: Her Excellency Aung San Suu Kyi’s Collected Writings

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Welcome to our show introducing “Freedom from Fear,” the collected writings by Her Excellency Aung San Suu Kyi, the beloved democratic icon and political leader in Myanmar, and a celebrated Nobel Peace Prize recipient. The book we introduce today, titled “Freedom From Fear,” was assembled and edited by her late husband Michael Aris and published in 1991, with additional material included in a 1995 edition. “Freedom From Fear” is divided into three parts.

“Part One – The Inheritance” includes four articles. The first one, “My Father,” is a biographical portrait of Major General Bogyoke Aung San, the beloved national hero who dedicated his life to the independence of Myanmar. The next article, “My Country and People,” goes on to introduce many aspects of her country: the influence of Theravada Buddhism, and the people in Myanmar – their food, festivals, crafts, and arts, as well as beautiful Myanmar women wearing thanakha, a popular traditional beauty treatment. The third article in Part One of the book is a sophisticated research paper on the comparative study about intellectual life in Myanmar and India under colonialism. Finding a strong link between nationalism and intellectual development, Her Excellency Suu Kyi’s research is further illustrated in the next article, “Literature and Nationalism in Burma.”

“Part Two – The Struggle” consists of a selection of documents composed by Aung San Suu Kyi, including “Freedom from Fear,” which commemorates the European Parliament’s award of the 1990 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. In these writings, we can see that Aung San Suu Kyi shares her father’s ideologies and is deeply influenced by Buddhism and Mahatma Gandhi, the “great apostle of non-violence” from India.

After almost six years of detainment, Aung San Suu Kyi was released in July 1995. With “no resentment against anybody for anything,” her chosen response was forgiveness, reconciliation, and dialogue. In her first press conference, she gave the following statement, which is included in Part Three of the book: “I have always believed that the future stability and happiness of our nation depends entirely on the readiness of all parties to work towards reconciliation. […] Dialogue has undoubtedly been the key to a happy resolution of long-festering problems.”
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