By Aye Aye Win
YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — The iron gate that stood in front of the home of Myanmar’s formerly imprisoned democracy icon, separating her from throngs of cheering supporters as she made speeches challenging the country’s then-military rulers, is going on the auction block. Soe Nyunt, the current owner, said Monday the starting bid would be $200,000.<!–more–>
He said the proceeds would go toward helping Aung San Suu Kyi build a new National League for Democracy party headquarters.
The 69-year old Nobel laureate — and daughter of Myanmar’s country’s famous independence leader, Gen. Aung San — became an international symbol of peaceful resistance in the face of oppression during her 15 years under house arrest.
She permanently moved from London to the lakeside house of her mother almost 27 years ago, where while under incarceration she often mounted a table behind its front gate and held on the pointed iron spikes as she spoke to crowds through a loudspeaker about everything from corruption to the abysmal state of education.
Soe Nyunt said he was landscaping Suu Kyi’s garden soon after her release in 2010 when he saw the gate — and the house number, 54, painted on a separate lacquered plate — under a mango tree waiting to be picked up by a junk collector.
Elections, seen by many as neither free nor fair, were held the next year, beginning a bumpy transition from dictatorship to democracy and Suu Kyi is now leader of the opposition in the country’s military-dominated young parliament.
“This gate tells the history of the country’s democratic struggle,” Soe Nyunt told The Associated Press, adding that he paid Suu Kyi a few hundred dollars for the gate and number with the idea that he would one day place in a museum.
He decided on an auction, to be held within the next two weeks, because he saw it as a way to help the cash-strapped NLD build a new party headquarters and to help pay for upcoming centennial celebrations to honor Suu Kyi’s father. (end)