For the last decade of Burma's traumatic history, Aung San Suu Kyi – winner of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize – has been the inspirational leader of attempts to restore democracy to her country. In these fifty –two pieces, originally written for a Japanese newspaper and begun soon after her release from house arrest, she paints a vivid, poignant yet fundamentally optimistic picture of her native land.
She evokes the country's seasons and scenery, customs and festivities, and describes an inspirational pilgrimage to the Buddhist abbot of Thamanya. She celebrates the courageous army officers, academics and actors who have supported the National League for Democracy, often at great personal risk, and she sets out a comprehensive programme for economic reform. A passionate advocate of better health care and education, and the need for ethical foreign investment in Burma's future, Aung San Suu Kyi reveals an acute insight into the impact of political decisions on ordinary people's lives. She examines the terrible traumas inflicted on children of imprisoned dissidents – children allowed to see their parents for fifteen minutes every fortnight – the effect of inflation on the national diet and of state repression on traditions of hospitality.
One woman's vision, humanity and commitment to political and ethnic harmony won her party an overwhelming victory in the elections of May 1990; every facet of her personality is powerfully displayed here.
These letters were awarded the prestigious Japanese Newspaper Association's Award for 1996. They are illustrated with pencil drawings by the Burmese artist Heinn Htet.