Burmese Democracy Icon’s Sweater Sells for $49,000

On Thursday night in Southeast Asia's poorest country, a sweater hand-knit by Burma's democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi sold for $49,000.

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Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi greets supporters from a car as she visits Monywa, northern Burma, on November 30, 2012.

A sweater hand-knit by democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi sold for $49,000 Thursday night at a fundraising auction in Burma’s commercial capital Rangoon.

The red, green and blue V-neck, whose initial bidding price was $6,000,was sold at an event organized by Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party. A Burmese radio station won the bidding war for the sweater, the Associated Press reported.

(PHOTOS: Aung San Suu Kyi’s Path to Victory, by James Nachtwey)

Forty-nine thousand dollars is a lot of money in one of the poorest countries in Southeast Asia; it’s equivalent to about 23 years of income for a local taxi driver (although he probably wouldn’t need the sweater in a city where temperatures rarely drop below 70 degrees Fahrenheit). The money will be used to pay for the education of children in need, the organizers said.

The 67-year old Nobel Peace laureate is famous in Burma as the daughter of modern Burma’s founding father Aung San and because of her unrelenting struggle to bring democracy to the country until very recently ruled by a military junta.

Suu Kyi spent much of the past two decades under house arrest, but has emerged as a powerful political figure following Burma’s recent political thaw. With astrologers and not a few other observers predicting that she could someday lead the country of 48 million people, the auction’s massive proceeds might also reflect efforts by the country’s leading tycoons to curry favor. The auction itself was sponsored by one of Burma’s richest men, Tay Za, an airline operator and former close ally to Senior General Than Shwe, head of Burma’s junta from 1992 to 2011.

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