2. Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar human rights leader
Aung San Suu Kyi, the Myanmar human rights leader who spent 15 of the past 21 years in prison or under house arrest, rejoined mainstream politics in late 2011 after Burmese authorities permitted her opposition party, the National League for Democracy, to legally register.
Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, who says she was inspired by the nonviolent campaigns of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi, has become an international symbol of peaceful resistance. Her years in detention were a result of her calls for peaceful democratic reform and free elections in Myanmar (Burma).
She founded the National League for Democracy (NLD) in 1988, and in 1990 her party won a general election, but Myanmar's military junta did not allow her, or her party, to take power. In 1991, she received the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts, and she served as general secretary of the NLD even while imprisoned.
The NLD was deemed illegal and forced to disband leading up to the Nov. 2010 elections, which were the first open elections in Burma in 20 years. The government’s decision to allow the party to reintegrate in 2011, paired with the recent re-initiation of diplomatic relations between this previously closed-off country and the West, gives hope to supporters internationally that Aung San Suu Kyi’s work and perseverance will pay off.