Freedom. That aspect of life which many people living in democratic nations take for granted. Freedom for many of us is second to breathing. We don"t realize what we are missing till we are in some form of captivity or till our freedom to do what we want to do is curtailed.
Imagine being ousted from your own country, not being able to enter it even once for more than four decades…Imagine living in your own country in house arrest for over 14 years at different points in time between 1998 and till date.
This is what Nobel Laureates Dalai Lama and Aung San Suu Kyi have endured in their life. One is fighting for people of Tibet and another for people of Myanmar.
There are some things common among both leaders. The Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his non-violent struggle in 1989 while Aung San Suu Kyi won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. Both are also recipients of the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award in the United States of America.
The Dalai Lama received the award in 2007, while Suu Kyi received it in 2008. They are influenced by Buddhist teachings. More importantly, both are fighting in their own way for the freedom of their people and to restore the process of democracy in their respective countries.
The Dalai Lama was pressurized by the Chinese Military in 1951 who wanted to take control of Tibet. When the uprising in 1959 was unsuccessful he fled Tibet and since then is settled in Dharmashala in India.
He has established a government-in-exile. Talking to a group of Chinese journalists recently, the Dalai Lama said, “Using violence in the form of fear and repression cannot solve human problems because fear saddles the mind with needless suspicions and anxiety and blocks the trust and friendship essential to bring real peace and harmony".
Returning to Burma to nurse her ailing mother Suu Kyi plunged into Myanmar"s (then Burma) cry for democracy. She became part of National League for Democracy (NLD).
Her party won a landslide victory in general elections in 1990 with her certain to be the Prime Minister of to be formed government. But the Burmese regime never recognized the election verdict. She is still in detention with all visitors banned including her family and friends. She has no access to phone or mail.
She is quoted as saying, “Isolation is not difficult for me. Maybe it"s because of my Buddhist upbringing."
The Dalai Lama turned 75 on July 6, 2010 and Suu Kyi turned 65 on June 19, 2010. To the establishment in their country they are dissidents. To their people they are the saviors. To the people of the world, they are the most audible voice against oppression.
In the modern world, The Dalai Lama and Suu Kyi represent resilience, bravery, courage, non-violence and more importantly humanity. Both symbolize people"s strong desire to be free.
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