After 10 years, Aung San Suu Kyi's son prepares for reunion

Hopes high that opposition leader will be freed

One of Aung San Suu Kyi's sons has travelled to Bangkok in order to apply for a Burmese visa, so he can visit the detained opposition leader for the first time in 10 years – if she is freed from house arrest after tomorrow's election.

Kim Aris, 33 – one of two sons of Ms Suu Kyi, 65, and her late husband, British academic Michael Aris – flew to the Thai capital from Britain. The last time he saw his mother was in December 2000 and previous visa applications have all failed.

Nyan Win, Ms Suu Kyi's lawyer, told The Independent last night: "[She] is expecting to be released. She is making some preparations. She is planning meetings with the media and how she will handle her security." The story of Ms Suu Kyi's relationship with Mr Aris and her enforced isolation from her children is one of the many sad sub-plots of Burma's decades-long struggle for democracy.

She and Mr Aris met while students in Oxford and married in a Buddhist ceremony in London in 1972. After Ms Suu Kyi returned to Burma in 1988, first to care for her ailing mother and then to lead the democracy campaign, he lobbied for her various causes. In 1997, Mr Aris was diagnosed with prostate cancer. The Burmese authorities refused him a visa to visit his wife, and urged Ms Suu Kyi to visit him in the UK.

She came to the conclusion that if she left, the junta would not let her return to the country. Her husband died in 1999, aged 53, without the two of them being reunited. In the foreword to a 1991 collection of essays by or about his wife, Mr Aris had written: "Fate and history never seem to work in orderly ways. Timings are unpredictable and do not wait upon conveniences."

The couple's two sons, Kim and Alexander, have rarely spoken in public about their mother, though Alexander – who now spends much of his time in the United States – accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on her behalf in 1991.

Ms Suu Kyi, head of the National League for Democracy – which is boycotting Sunday's poll – has been either imprisoned or held under house arrest for 15 of the past 21 years. She was first arrested in 1989 when her sons were aged 11 and 16. She was most recently placed under house arrest in 2003. She was due to have been released last year.

However, the authorities seized on a bizarre incident in which an American citizen swam across a lake in Rangoon to visit her. Although she had not invited the visitor, the authorities claimed Ms Suu Kyi had breached the terms of her detention and extended her house arrest by 18 months – a period which ends on 13 November.

Many obstacles still stand in the way of a yearned-for reunion between mother and son. While the authorities have acknowledged that 13 November marks the end of Ms Suu Kyi's sentence, they have not confirmed whether she will be freed from detention. That may well depend on whether tomorrow's elections – Burma's first in 20 years – are wrapped up to the satisfaction of the generals.

Ms Suu Kyi has relied on letters to keep in touch with her sons. Nyan Win, one of the few people who is allowed to visit her regularly, acts as go-between. "I often take her letters from Kim and the family in Britain," said the lawyer, who last saw her on October 30. "But unfortunately the last time I saw her I didn't know the news that Kim is seeking a visa. She does not know this yet."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Joinery Shop Foreman

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Joinery Shop Foreman is required to join a p...

Recruitment Genius: Bench Joiner

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Bench Joiner is required to join a privately...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Manchester

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Recruitment and Sales People wanted f...

Recruitment Genius: Multi Skilled Engineer - Electrical / Mechanical / Maintenance

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A multi-skilled engineer with a...

Day In a Page

Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

The ZX Spectrum is back

The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

The quirks of work perks

From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

Is bridge becoming hip?

The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

The rise of Lego Clubs

How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
5 best running glasses

On your marks: 5 best running glasses

Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
Joe Root: 'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

Joe Root says the England dressing room is a happy place again – and Stokes is the catalyst
Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada