Aung San Suu Kyi’s son granted visa for Burma visit

BURMA’S pro-democracy icon, Aung San Suu Kyi, will be allowed to see her son for the first time in 10 years after the country’s ruling junta granted him a visa.

Kim Aris, 33, lives in Britain and has repeatedly been denied visas since his last visit in December 2000.

Suu Kyi has been detained for 15 of the past 21 years and was unwilling to leave her homeland even when free for fear she would not be let back in to continue her political struggle.

The 65-year-old Nobel Peace laureate was released from her latest house arrest term on November 13.

Nyan Win, a lawyer for Suu Kyi, said Aris was expected to fly to Rangoon from Bangkok on Tuesday morning.

He said she would meet him at the airport, and at some point soon take him to the city’s famous Shwedagon pagoda, a cultural and religious landmark.

“I am very, very happy to finally see him,” Nyan Win quoted Suu Kyi saying.

“I haven’t seen him for years.” She spoke by phone with him soon after her November 13 release from detention.

Burma’s junta tightly controls Suu Kyi’s movements because it sees her calls for democracy as a threat to its rule.

Suu Kyi, who won the 1991 Nobel Peace prize for her dedication to the nonviolent struggle for democracy, was first arrested in 1989 when Kim was 11 and his older brother Alexander was 16.

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 initially raised their two sons, Kim and Alexander, in England.

But in 1988, 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 1991 – while she was serving an earlier term of house arrest – and 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.

The British embassy in Thailand, which has been facilitating Kim Aris’ trip, said his visit to Burma will be strictly a private one, and he doesn’t intend to discuss politics.

Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party won a 1990 election but was barred from taking power.

The junta held another election this month, but it was boycotted by her party, who charged that it was being held under unfair and undemocratic conditions.

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