Arlen Siu was born on 15 July 1955 in Jinotepe, Nicaragua. Her father, Armando Siu Lau, was born in Guangdong, China, and immigrated to Nicaragua in the late 1940s after serving in the Communist Revolutionary Army. He later married a native Nicaraguan woman. Arlen Siu attended La Escuela Normal de Señoritas (Young Women's Normal School) in Jinotepe, and she later attended UNAN, where she often sang with Marlene Álvarez, a member of a music group named Pancasán.
Siu was 18 when she joined the Sandinistas. She had already attained a level of national celebrity as a talented songwriter, singer, and guitarist by the time she joined the movement. She was killed August 1, 1975 during an ambush near El Sauce, Leon, Nicaragua, by soldiers from Anastasio Somoza Debayle's National Guard. She was twenty years old.
She is considered by many in Nicaragua to be one of the earliest martyrs of the revolutionary movement. Her artistic works and critical essays on Marxism and feminism served as an inspiration to both the Sandinista movement and the Nicaraguan Women's movement. Her picture was often displayed at FSLN celebrations throughout Nicaragua. Managua and El Rama have neighborhoods named after her, and a park in León is also named after her.
Arlen Siu in popular culture
Arlen wrote a song entitled "Maria Rural", and since her death, it has been sung by Marlene Alvarez and Grupo Pancasan, among others.
- Roshni Rustomji-Kerns, Rajini Srikanth, Leny Mendoza Strobel (1999). Encounters: People of Asian Descent in the Americas. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 119–120. ISBN 0-8476-9145-4.
- "Personalidades en la Musica de Nicaragua: Pancasán hizo su historia" (in Spanish). Manfut. Retrieved 2007-08-08.
- "Mujeres Que Hacen La Revolución: Arlen Siu". Mujeresrevolucionaria.blogspot.fr. 2011-09-28. Retrieved 2013-04-19.
- "Parque de León sin recursos". La Prensa (in Spanish). Retrieved 2007-08-20.
- Randall, Margaret (1980). Todas estamos despiertas: Testimonios de la mujer Nicaragüense de hoy. Siglo XXI. pp. 122–123. ISBN 968-23-1011-3.