Aung San Suu Kyi’s son urges army to free her
In a letter calling for her release, the youngest son of Myanmar’s ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi appealed to the military.
In an exclusive London interview, Kim Aris told BBC Burmese that she could not let her mother languish in prison.
After a coup toppled her government in 2021, Ms Suu Kyi was sentenced to 33 years in prison.
Since then, Myanmar has spiraled into a civil war, which has killed tens of thousands.
According to Aris, a British national, the army has not provided him with any information about his mother. No one has been able to assist him, including the Burmese embassy, the British Foreign Office, and the International Red Cross.
“Before this, I was reluctant to speak with media or get involved too much,” Mr Aris said in his first-ever interview with international media. From 1989 to 2010, his mother was held for nearly 15 years without being able to speak out.
I should have stayed out of politics. My mother never wanted me to get involved in politics. But now that she has been sentenced, and the military is clearly not being fair, I think I have the right to speak my mind.”
One of the most prominent icons of democracy in the world, Ms Suu Kyi was awarded the Nobel peace prize. Myanmar and the world celebrated her release from detention in 2010.
As a result of widespread claims that Myanmar had committed atrocities against Muslim Rohingya while her government was in power, she was later criticized for defending her country at the UN International Court of Justice (ICJ). Over a million of them have fled Myanmar in recent years and are now living in neighbouring Bangladesh as refugees.
The BBC asked Aris about his mother’s criticism before the coup, but he did not respond, preferring instead to focus on her current plight.
As a result of the coup, Ms Suu Kyi was moved into solitary confinement in a prison in the capital Nay Pyi Taw last year. There has been almost no news of her for the past two years. Additionally, she was rumored to have been ill, but the military denied the claims.
In addition, Aris has called on the international community to resolve the crisis in Myanmar, where the death toll continues to rise as the army uses deadly weapons and air strikes.
According to him, the international community must start “doing something, including imposing a proper arms embargo on the military and even supporting those fighting it”.
Myanmar continues to import weapons and raw materials despite sanctions and international isolation.
According to him, they must also “start lobbying more strongly” for his mother’s release. Additionally, he urged the world to provide “proper aid for the people of Burma who are going through such hard times, and have no one supporting them other than Burmese themselves”.
Aris and his brother have been mostly separated from their mother since 1988, when Ms Suu Kyi returned to Myanmar from the UK to care for her ailing mother.
Daughter of independence hero General Aung San, she led the pro-democracy movement against the military dictatorship. Despite co-founding the National League for Democracy (NLD), she was placed under house arrest in 1989.
The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded on her behalf by Mr Aris, 14 years old at the time, when she was not allowed to leave Myanmar for fear of not being able to return. Her husband died of cancer in 1999, and she never saw him again.