Burma: Suu Ki joyfully reunited with son Kim Aris as The Irrawaddy returns to urge Int. Support Print E-mail

 Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Aung San Suu Kyi Reunited with Her Son

 Kim Aris, right, son of Aung San Suu Kyi, left, shows his arm tattooed with a symbol of his mother's NLD party's flag on his arrival at Yangon (Rangoon) International Airport on Nov. 23. (AP)


RANGOON ­ Burma's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi was reunited Tuesday with a son she last saw a decade ago, in an emotional moment at the Rangoon airport 10 days after she was released from detention.

Kim Aris, 33, was finally granted a visa by the military regime after waiting for several weeks in neighboring Thailand. Just before walking into the airport terminal, the 65-year old Suu Kyi, who was released Nov. 13 after more than seven years under house arrest, told reporters, "I am very happy."

A smiling Suu Kyi slipped her arm around her son's waist as the two posed briefly for photographers.

Through her lawyer Nyan Win, Suu Kyi thanked the authorities for issuing the visa to her son, who resides in Britain and last saw his mother in December 2000. He has repeatedly been denied visas ever since by the ruling junta.

Suu Kyi, who won the 1991 Nobel Peace prize for her nonviolent struggle for democracy, was first arrested in 1989 when Kim was 11 and elder son Alexander 16. She has been detained for 15 of the past 21 years.

In an interview last week with The Associated Press, Suu Kyi acknowledged that her years of political work had been difficult for her family.

"I knew there would be problems," she said of her mid-life decision to go into politics. "If you make the choice you have to be prepared to accept the consequences."

Suu Kyi, who was largely raised overseas, married the British academic Michael Aris and raised their two sons in England.

But in 1988, at age 43, she returned home to take care of her ailing mother as mass demonstrations were breaking out against military rule. She was quickly thrust into a leadership role, mainly because she was the daughter of Aung San, the country's martyred founding father.

Elder son Alexander accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on his mother's behalf in 1991­while she was serving an earlier term of house arrest­and reportedly lives in the United States.

Michael Aris died of prostate cancer in 1999 at age 53, after having been denied visas to see his wife for the three years leading up to his death. Suu Kyi has never met her two grandchildren.

While her family supported her, she said her sons had suffered particularly badly.

"They haven't done very well after the breakup of the family, especially after their father died, because Michael was a very good father," she said. "Once he was no longer there, things were not as easy as they might have been."

But she added that she always had their support: "My sons are very good to me," she said. "They've been very kind and understanding all along."
 Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Why Suu Kyi Needs United International Support

Directly after her release from house arrest, Aung San Suu Kyi called for national reconciliation and meaningful dialogue with the regime leaders and repeated her wish for peaceful change in Burma.

Burma has been waiting for her leadership. But she can't do it all alone.

She rightly said at her first news conference, “I’m not going to be able to do it alone. One person alone can’t do anything as important as bringing genuine democracy to a country.”

Indeed, there are several reasons why Burmese inside and outside the country and the entire international community must be united in supporting Suu Kyi.

For a start, in spite of brutal military rule and ongoing repression, Suu Kyi has kept Burma's peaceful and non-violent struggle alive since 1988.

Suu Kyi has never ceased her repeated calls for meaningful dialogue with her captors, in spite of the regime leaders' personal and physical attacks on her and her supporters.

This time, after spending seven years as prisoner of the regime in her own home, she re-emerged as a national leader who can reconcile all the different political forces, including ethnic minorities and armed groups.

Suu Kyi's interest in a second Panglong Conference is a good start. Governments in the region and beyond and the international community should support the idea of such a conference, although it is doubtful that the regime will allow it to take place

Suu Kyi says she made a right decision in not contesting the regime-sponsored election­an election that amounted to daylight robbery, lacking any pretense at fairness and designed to maintain the military in power. Therefore, Suu Kyi's interest in an examination of allegations of electoral fraud and vote rigging is important.

Suu Kyi said that she doesn't want to see the military forces disintegrating, but rather an army that is "rising to dignified heights of professionalism and patriotism"­a wish that we believe is also widely held among military personnel and their family members

Finally, Suu Kyi is the person who can reform Burma, restore the country's dignity, democratic rule and a well-deserved place in the world arena.

To make it all happen, it is not a time to be complacent or to send a United Nations negotiator to Burma to break the ice.

It is the time, however, to get the junta to the negotiating table with Suu Kyi and ethnic leaders. The international community, including China and India, should maintain maximum pressure and impose legal, political, and economic pressure on the military junta.

It is also time to establish a commission of inquiry into the junta’s alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity, as proposed by the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Burma.

A clear and well-scripted message must now be sent to the regime that the time for meaningful dialogue with Suu Kyi and ethnic stakeholders is long overdue.