12 November 2010
Last updated at 10:45
Aung San Suu Kyi was born in 1945. She is pictured here (front centre) aged 2 with her father, Burma's independence hero General Aung San. He was assassinated in July 1947, just six months before formal independence.
Aung San Suu Kyi left Burma in 1960 and did not return until 1988 to care for her sick mother. She was caught up in a revolt against then-dictator Ne Win, who seized power in a coup on 18 September 1988. The revolt was brutally suppressed by the army.
The military government called elections for May 1990, which Ms Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party won by an overwhelming majority - despite her being under house arrest in Rangoon.
The generals refused to acknowledge the NLD's victory and have remained in power ever since. Ms Suu Kyi was kept in detention until 1995, despite having been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize four years earlier.
Her movements were restricted. She was again detained in 2000 and given unconditional release two years later.
She refused to leave Burma, choosing to "stay with her people". Just over a year later she was put in prison following a clash between her supporters and a government-backed mob. She has been in near continuous detention ever since.
Burma's ruling generals have largely succeeded in silencing dissent. But in September 2007 a fuel price hike triggered anti-government demonstrations. In her first public appearance since 2003, she met protesting monks at the gates of her compound.
Just days later the military launched a brutal offensive to end what was the most significant challenge to Burma's generals in almost two decades.
Since then senior international diplomats have been allowed sporadic access to Ms Suu Kyi - usually in meetings heavily choreographed by the junta. Western governments continue to lobby for her unconditional release.
Ms Suu Kyi has two sons, one of whom, Kim Aris, is in Thailand trying to get a visa to see his mother if she is freed. She has not seen her sons for many years. Her husband Michael Aris died of cancer in 1999. She has grandchildren she has never met.