Myanmar grants visa to Suu Kyi’s son

Monday, November 22, 2010

YANGON - The second son of Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has been granted a visa to meet his mother, whom he last visited 10 years ago and who was released this month after seven years of house arrest, officials said Monday.

Kim Aris, 33, applied for a visa at the Myanmar embassy in Bangkok Nov 8, the day after Myanmar staged its first general election in 20 years.

“He has been granted a visa,” said a senior Myanmar official, who asked to remain anonymous. “I understand that Aris has been informed and is making flight arrangements.”

Thein Oo, the spokesman of Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) opposition party, confirmed that he had also heard that Aris had been given a visa.

Suu Kyi, 65, was released Nov 13 on the completion of her latest 18-month house detention sentence, which was added on to a previous term of six years.

Aris, a British citizen, last visited his mother 10 years ago when he was permitted to stay in Myanmar for three weeks.

Suu Kyi, the daughter of independence hero Aung San, had married a British professor, the late Michael Aris, while she was studying at Oxford. They had two sons, who have seen little of her since she returned to Myanmar in 1988 and got caught up in the struggle for democracy.

Suu Kyi helped found the opposition NLD, which won the 1990 general election but was not allowed to form a government by the military.

Myanmar held its first election in two decades Sunday. Despite international calls for her release before the polls, the junta kept Suu Kyi detained, and excluded the NLD from participating through election regulations that would have forced the party to drop Suu Kyi as a member if they wanted to run.

She was first placed under house arrest in the family’s lakeside Yangon home in 1989, and has spent about 16 of the past 21 years under detention.

In July 2009, a court sentenced Suu Kyi to 18 months for breaking the conditions of her house arrest by allowing a US citizen to stay in her house after he swam across the lake uninvited.

She was freed Nov 13, to the jubilation of the Myanmar people, for whom she remains a democracy icon.

Suu Kyi’s political career and consequent imprisonment has deprived her of a family life for the past two decades. Her husband died of cancer a decade ago when she was under house arrest.

“It’s up to her what she does,” her son said. “And I’ll respect what she decides to do. I always have.”

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