JoshuaHammer’s Smithsonian Magazine questions

  1. Aung San Suu Kyi is the leader of the opposition in Myanmar. She also chairs the main opposition party the National League for Democracy (NLD)

  2. Her father’s name was Aung San.

  3. Suu Kyi was only two years old when her father was assassinated in 1947.

  4. The steps Shwedagon Pagoda was venue of both the 1946 and 1988 revolutionary speeches

  5. Vipassana helped Suu Kyi to contend with house arrest, improved her awareness of the situation she faced, and think through all she planned to do for her country. It also enabled her to meditate and make strategic decisions in her quest for democracy. It is one of the many Buddhist doctrines that a majority of Myanmar population professes (Beech, 2011).

  6. Vipassana is a practice of self meditation in Buddhist doctrine in which a person takes time for self-observation where they focus their mind to the senses of the body so that they can liberate themselves from anxiety, impatience, and a feeling of discontent. It motivated Suu Kyi to adopt and prefer using nonviolent means to pursue democracy under a military dictatorship regime.

  7. The NLD stands for the National League For democracy, an opposition political party under the leadership of Aung San Suu Kyi

  8. The NLD did not take over power in 1990 because the military leadership under the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLROC) declined to hand over power (Hammer, 2012).

  9. Than Shwe was the leader of the military Junta in Myanmar from 1992-2011. In an attempt to build his Buddhist merit and credit, he renovated shrines and reached out to monks.

  10. Than Shwe’s wife was among government officials that had earlier gone to reopen Danok pagoda after a year of reconstruction. It was a sign of trying to prove their merit. The collapse of Pagoda in 2009 had a superstitious meaning to the regime. It meant that the Buddhist powers had rejected the regime and therefore, Kyang kyang used her influence to advise Than Shwe to step down. They were both implicated in the disaster for involving themselves with the shrine yet they lacked the merit to do so. The collapse was, therefore, a spiritual reaction to their ills.

  11. Burma has over 300,000 monks

  12. The saffron revolution was a span or protests that were sparked by monks after the government raised the cost of fuel without warning the public. The protests met ruthless crackdowns from the junta military leading to extreme human rights violations.

  13. The military cracked down the Saffron protests using force. They brutally killed demonstrators. They also arrested and imprisoned many monks and orchestrated raids to several monasteries. For example Ashin Gambira, one of the leaders of the Saffron revolution was arrested and charged with sedition.

  14. The monks in the streets turned their begging bowls upside down as a sign that they did not need the help of soldiers. This was a sign of ex-communication.

  15. Buddhism will continue to inspire Aung Suu Kyi to lead non-violent protests in future for the people of Myanmar to obtain democracy and other fundamental freedoms. It is evident that religion plays a very important role in the political philosophy of leaders. However, some will flout it for the sake of power like the Than Shwe’s regime.


Beech,H. (2011). The First Lady of Freedom.(Cover Story).

Hammer,J. (2012). Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma’s Revolutionary Leader.SmithsonianMagazine.

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