1 of 12 After decades of house arrests and pro-democracy battles, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, 67, seems to have won her war. Burma’s brutal military rulers have opened their doors to democratic reforms. Suu Kyi has won a seat in the country’s parliament and US President Barack Obama made an historic visit to the country in support of democratic change. However Suu Kyi also attracted some criticism for failing to stand up against the genocide of Burma’s Rohingya Muslims. Reuters After decades of house arrests and pro-democracy battles, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, 67, seems to have won her war. Burma’s brutal military rulers have opened their doors to democratic reforms. Suu Kyi has won a seat in the country’s parliament and US President Barack Obama made an historic visit to the country in support of democratic change. However Suu Kyi also attracted some criticism for failing to stand up against the genocide of Burma’s Rohingya Muslims. Reuters Twenty months of bloodshed have not convinced Syria's President Bashar al-Assad to step down. Some observers report a dangerous new twist: as rebels seem to be tightening the screws on the regime, suspicious movement of chemical weapons have been reported. Through the violence perpetrated on his own people, Assad, 47, has become the world’s most infamous villain and the Syrian civil war and its 40,000 deaths have been in the news through the whole year. Reuters The downfall of the former Communist party boss of the Chinese megacity of Chongqing following the mysterious murder of English businessman Neil Heywood made newspaper front page all around the world. His case embarrassed the party in the run-up to the once-in-a-decade power takeover by revealing a secret world of power, corruption and intrigue. Bo’s wife, Gu Kailai, 53, confessed to the murder and was given a suspended death sentence. Bo has been expelled from the party and faces prosecution for corruption and other charges. Reuters ‘Captain Coward’ Francesco Schettino became the symbol of everything a ship captain should not be for his handling of the Costa Concordia disaster in January. Schettino, 52, was on the bridge when he crashed the cruise ship into rocks by sailing too close to Giglio island to perform a questionable “salute” and endangering his 4,252 passengers and crew. Then, as the ship was sinking, his indecision lost precious minutes in getting passengers to safety. He abandoned the ship with many people still on board. Thirty-two people died. Reuters On July 20, James Holmes, 24, opened fire on spectators at a midnight screening of Batman, the Dark Knight Rises, in Aurora Colorado. Armed with an AR-15 assault rifle, a 12-gauge shotgun and a Glock .40 handgun, Holmes left 12 people dead and 58 others injured. He was arrested the same night and charged with 24 counts of murder and 116 counts of attempted murder. Reuters After becoming the Duchess of Cambridge by marrying Prince William last year, in 2012 Kate won the hearts of British people for her regal behaviour, as well as the front pages of hundreds of publications around the world. From the royal scandal around the publication of the duchess’ topless pictures to the news of a royal baby and on to the tragic death of nurse Jacintha Saldanha, Kate has been under the media spotlight throughout the whole year. Reuters The first democratically elected Egyptian president, Mohammed Mursi, 62, succeeded Hosni Mubarak, whose authoritarian regime was toppled in the Arab Spring. A member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mursi has gained some international praise for his role in the Gaza conflict but domestically his popularity is shaky. The extended powers Mursi granted himself by decree - despite later scrapping them - plus a controversial new constitution triggered a wave of protests, putting Egypt back on the brink of chaos. Reuters The head of Bahrain's Centre for Human Rights, Nabeel Rajab, has been at the forefront of pro-democracy protests during 16 months of unrest in the Gulf Arab state. A symbol of the protests against the Sunni al-Khalifa monarchy, Rajab has been sentenced to three years in prison for three separate cases of inciting and participating in the protests. His sentence was later reduced to two years but he remains in jail. Reuters Coptic Christian filmmaker Nakoula Basseley Nakoula triggered worldwide protests and violence with the release on YouTube of the trailer of his anti-Islam movie, Innocence of Muslims. Nakoula, who until his real identity was discovered, pretended to be an Israeli property developer named Sam Bacile, allegedly manipulated the movie shooting unbeknown to the actors in it to represent the Prophet as an il legitimate son and philanderer who approved of child sexual abuse. Days of violent protests greeted release of the footage. US ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three staff were killed in an attack linked to protests about the movie. Nakoula was arrested in California for violating probation from a 2010 cheque fraud conviction. Reuters Oppa is Gangnam style! South Korean artist Park Jae-sang, stage name Psy, has become the internet sensation with the release of his single, Gangnam Style. Clicked almost one billion times, the video clip has smashed YouTube’s all-time most watched ranking, giving the chubby, Seoul-born, 35-year-old singer world fame. Gangnam Style has been danced by UN secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei - along with a few other million people. Reuters The feminist punk-rock band has become a symbol of dissent and rebellion against Putin’s Russia after three of its members were jailed for performing an anti-Putin 'punk prayer' in a Moscow cathedral. Maria Alyokhina, 24, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 29 were each jailed for two years for hooliganism motivated by religious hatred. Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova are serving their sentences in two of Russia's grimmest gulags. Samutsevich’s sentence was suspended after six months. Reuters The real moral winner of the US presidential elections was neither the re-elected President Barack nor his opponent Mitt Romney, but this 34-year-old former poker player and maths genius. His Fivethirtyeight Political Calculus elections analysis blog on the New York Times, featuring an election forecasting system he developed, predicted that Obama would win the elections and called the correct results in all US 50 states long before the ballot was over. At times ahead of election day, Fivethirtyeight made up to 20 percent of the New York Times' online traffic. Reuters
Democracy in Burma, corruption in China, civil war in Syria, a massacre in the US, a show trial in Russia - who were the faces behind the news this year?
From Aung San Suu Kyi getting a seat in the Burmese parliament to the obscure Asian pop star notching up one billion hits on YouTube, and from one man's crude propaganda film sparking riots throughout the Muslim world to Britain's best-loved royal, a dozen of the most important people of the year have been pulled together by reporter Umberto Bacchi and
Here are the 12 men and women who set the news agenda for 2012 out of the hundreds of names and faces who hit the headlines:
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