Burma’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, recently released from detention, has been reunited with a son she last saw a decade ago.
Kim Aris, 33, who lives in Britain, flew into Rangoon after being granted a visa by the military regime and was greeted by his smiling mother at the airport.
Mr Aris was finally granted a visa by the military regime after waiting for several weeks in neighbouring Thailand. Just before walking into the airport terminal, smiling Ms Suu Kyi, 65, told reporters: “I am very happy.”
Through her lawyer Nyan Win, Ms Suu Kyi thanked the authorities for issuing the visa to her son, who last saw his mother in December 2000. He has repeatedly been denied visas ever since by the ruling junta.
Tears welled up in Ms Suu Kyi’s eyes when she first saw her son. Smiling, she slipped her arm around his waist as the two posed briefly for photographers and then they walked out of the airport holding hands.
Clearly showing support for his mother’s cause, Mr Aris bared his left arm before airport security and the public to reveal a tattoo of the flag and symbol of Ms Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy. Ms Suu Kyi looked at it closely and smiled. The flag and symbol feature a fighting peacock and a star.
Ms Suu Kyi, who won the 1991 Nobel Peace prize for her non-violent 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 she admitted 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.”
Ms Suu Kyi, who was largely raised overseas, married British academic Michael Aris and raised their two sons in England. But in 1988, at 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 1991 – while she was serving an earlier term of house arrest – and reportedly lives in the United States.