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Aung San Suu Kyi Supporters Get Tattoos Of Her Face

Because nothing says permanent support like permanent ink.

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As the country formerly known as Burma moves away from military rule, its citizens are finding new ways to express themselves politically.

Dene-hern Chen

One trend that has cropped up over the last few weeks are supporters choosing to tattoo themselves with the face of the country's opposition leader, democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi.

Put under house arrest by the military junta that led Myannmar for more than 15 years and released in 2010, Suu Kyi — often affectionately called "Mother Suu" — is beloved by many.

Her popularity propelled her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), to victory during the country's national election on November 8.

Now, she has high expectations to live up to as her party must tread a tenuous line between governing a complicated region and appeasing Myanmar's powerful military.

But for these three individuals, she has already won their hearts – and a permanent spot on their skin.

B Za discusses with artist Nga Lunn what to add to his Aung San Suu Kyi tattoo.

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Below her portrait will be the words "Freedom From Fear," taken from her famous speech in 1990, when she pointed out that it was her oppressors — and not her — who felt fear. B Za is also planning to add flying doves in a sky of blue around her portrait.

Space permitting, Kyaw Say plans to add a famous Suu Kyi quote to his tattoo.

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"'You should never let your fears prevent you from doing what you know is right,'" he quoted. "I really hope she can make the future better for our people."

The entrance of Golden Land Tattoo Studio boasts a portrait of Suu Kyi, which tattoo artist Nga Lunn first did for his father.

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The studio opened in 2003 in Bogyoke Market, the heart of downtown Yangon, and owner Ko Toe says that it is the first tattoo establishment in Yangon.

Nyo Mi Thwin, a 44-year-old mother of two teenagers, was very much involved in the pro-democracy movement in the 80s.

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As a student activist, she has been detained several times throughout her college years for interrogation. "I know May Suu's [Mother Suu's] qualifications and I really look up to her," she said, adding that she caught a glimpse of Suu Kyi during a rally.

B Za and Nyo Mi Thwin talk about what else she could add to her tattoo of Aung San Suu Kyi.

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"B Za's tattoo is more 'perfect-looking,'" Nyo My Thwin admitted, though she said she loves her rendering.

John Gyi, another artist, stuck a print-out of Aung San Suu Kyi art next to his workspace.

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The studio is located in Bahan Township, minutes from the NLD headquarters where thousands of supporters gathered on the day of election.

Kate Bubacz is a Senior Photo Editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Kate Bubacz at kate.bubacz@buzzfeed.com.

Dene-Hern Chen is a freelance reporter based in Southeast Asia.

Contact Dene-Hern Chen at denechen@gmail.com.

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