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Life Journey: 21yrs later, Burma's Aung San Suu Kyi(66) receives Nobel Prize; China's 1st female astronaut Liu Yang(33) in space


By WcP.Story.Teller - Posted on 16 June 2012

Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese opposition leader, is greeted in Oslo by Thorbjorn Jagland, chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee

China's first female astronaut, waves during a launch ceremony at Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre

(quote)

21 Years Later, Aung San Suu Kyi Receives Her Nobel Peace Prize
When the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded her the prize, she said in her Nobel lecture here on Saturday, 21 years later, it was recognition that “the oppressed and the isolated in Burma were also a part of the world, they were recognizing the oneness of humanity.” But “it did not seem quite real, because in a sense I did not feel myself to be quite real at that time,” she said. “The Nobel Peace Prize opened up a door in my heart.” She said the prize “had made me real once again; it had drawn me back into the wider human community,” and it had given the oppressed people of Burma, now Myanmar, and its dispersed refugees, new hope. “To be forgotten,” Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi added, “is to die a little.” In a quiet, throaty voice on Saturday she asked the world not to forget other prisoners of conscience, both in Myanmar and around the world, other refugees, others in need, who may be suffering twice over, she said, from oppression and from the larger world’s “compassion fatigue.”

It was a remarkable moment for the slight Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, who turns 67 next week and is now a member of Parliament and the leader of Myanmar’s opposition. She dressed in shades of purple and lavender, her hair adorned with flowers. It is a gesture she makes in honor of her father, Gen. Aung San, an independence hero of Burma, who was assassinated in 1947, when she was 2, but whom she remembers threading flowers through her hair.

China's first female astronaut enters space - Liu Yang and two male astronauts take off from Gobi desert on mission to help build space station within decade

JIUQUAN, China - China launched its most ambitious space mission yet on Saturday, carrying its first female astronaut and two male colleagues in an attempt to dock with an orbiting module and work on board for more than a week. The Shenzhou 9 capsule lifted off as scheduled at 6:37 p.m. from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on the edge of the Gobi Desert. All systems functioned normally and, just over 10 minutes later, it opened its solar panels and entered orbit.

Female astronaut Liu Yang, 33, and two male crew members -- mission commander and veteran astronaut Jing Haipeng, 45, and newcomer Liu Wang, 43 -- are to dock the spacecraft with a prototype space lab launched last year in a key step toward building a permanent space station. All three are experienced pilots and officers in the Chinese air force.

*Update June 28, 2012*

Chinese space trio lands after history-making trip - Shenzhou 9 mission noted for China's first manned dockings and first woman astronaut
Three Chinese astronauts have returned to Earth after spending 13 days on a historic space mission that made their country only the third nation ever to dock a manned spacecraft to another craft in orbit.

The Shenzhou 9 space capsule landed at about 10 p.m. ET (10 a.m. Friday, Beijing time) in Inner Mongolia, an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China. The astronauts left the Tiangong 1 prototype space lab module a day earlier. The mission, which included successful displays of manual and automatic dockings, represented an important leap forward for China's space program. The nation aims to construct a space station in orbit by the year 2020.

While the orbital linkups are important technological achievements for China, the mission also carried a wider social impact, because it included the country's first female astronaut, 33-year-old Liu Yang. The mission was commanded by veteran Chinese astronaut Jing Haibeng. The third crew member, Liu Wang, served as the Shenzhou 9 docking pilot.

The Shenzhou 9 mission, which launched into space on June 16, accomplished China's first manned space dockings. The Shenzhou spacecraft robotically docked to Tiangong 1 on June 18. Then, on June 24, the astronauts backed their capsule away from the orbiting module and came back in for another docking under manual control. The successful linkups made China only the third country, after the United States and Russia, to accomplish manned dockings in orbit.

The Shenzhou 9 mission, as well as experiments performed aboard Tiangong 1 throughout the flight, tested technologies that will help China fulfill its goal of building a 60-ton space station in orbit by 2020. "The data will help us improve technologies for astronauts' future, long-term stays in a space station," said Chen Shanguang, chief commander of the mission's astronaut system, according to Xinhua.

*Update Sep 22, 2012*
Aung San Suu Kyi and family
Kim Aris protects mother Aung San Suu Kyi
Kim Aris helps protect his mother from a crush of admirers in Bagan, July 2011

Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese dissident and Nobel Peace Prize winner, spent most of the past two decades under house arrest in Rangoon, thousands of miles from her husband and children in the UK. She has rarely talked about the pain of this separation.

A family apart
- Aung San Suu Kyi married Michael Aris in 1971
- gave birth to first son, Alexander, a year later, 1972
- Second son, Kim, born in 1977
- Separation starts in 1988 when Suu Kyi returns to Burma
- in 1989 she is placed under house arrest
- Last meeting with husband at Christmas 1995
- in 1997, Michael Aris is refused a visa after a diagnosis of prostate cancer and dies two years later, in 1999
- Kim visits in 2010, for first time in 12 years

"I think she's genuinely strong. And you know even if she's sad at something, she knows she's got to get on with things. She's not going to waste time crying about it," says Kim Aris, Aung San Suu Kyi's son.

Every day for almost 20 years, Aung San Suu Kyi faced a choice - to remain imprisoned in her house in Rangoon or re-join her family in Oxford, knowing that if she chose to leave she might never be allowed to return and lead her people.

"Of course I regret not having been able to spend time with my family," says Suu Kyi. "One wants to be together with one's family. That's what families are about. Of course, I have regrets about that. Personal regrets. "I would like to have been together with my family. I would like to have seen my sons growing up. But I don't have doubts about the fact that I had to choose to stay with my people here," she says.

Suu Kyi is the daughter of Burma's independence hero, General Aung San, assassinated when she was only two. She always believed it was her destiny to serve the people of Burma, even telling her English husband-to-be Michael this on the eve of their marriage. "I wanted to make sure that he knew from the very beginning that my country meant a great deal to me and should the necessity arise for me to go back to live in Burma, he must never try to stand between my country and me," she says.

After a period working overseas, she and Michael settled into Oxford academic life, raising their two young sons, Alexander and Kim, until Suu Kyi's mother became critically ill in Rangoon in 1988.

When she returned to Burma to care for her mother, Suu Kyi became a figurehead for democracy protests, founding the NLD party. The military junta which seized power confined Suu Kyi to her house - and family life came to an end.

"The parting of the way came when I was placed under house arrest," she says. "Then of course I knew that my relationship with the family was going to change considerably because we would not be able to be in touch with each other," says Suu Kyi.

The military junta thought it could pressure Suu Kyi to leave Burma by exploiting this fact.

"The first Christmas after I was placed under house arrest, Michael was allowed to come to see me but they wouldn't let the children come," she says. But Suu Kyi stayed in Burma, committed to the struggle for political reform - although the personal sadness remained. "There are things that you do together that you don't do with other people. It's very special. A family is very special. So when a family splits up, it's not good, it's never good," she says.

It was 12 years before she would see her younger son, Kim, again.

(unquote)

Photos courtesy Daniel Sannum Lauten / Agence France-Presse - Getty Images and Jason Lee / Reuters

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