YANGON, Nov 23 – Myanmar\’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, freed by the junta from house arrest just 10 days ago, was reunited with her younger son on Tuesday after a decade of separation.
Kim Aris, 33, who lives in Britain, was met by his 65-year-old mother at Yangon airport after flying in from Bangkok.
"I\’m very glad and I\’m very happy," Suu Kyi told an AFP reporter who witnessed the reunion along with some of the dissident\’s relatives, well-wishers and a gaggle of photographers.
The Nobel Peace Prize winner was released on November 13 after more than seven consecutive years in detention.
On greeting his smiling and excited mother, Aris immediately took off his outer shirt to reveal the symbols of her now-disbanded National League for Democracy (NLD) party tattooed on his arm.
With his mother\’s arm around him, he told reporters he would stay in the country for about two weeks. They then left holding hands for the family\’s lakeside home, where Suu Kyi had been confined by the ruling generals.
Aris arrived in the Thai capital ahead of his mother\’s release but faced a prolonged wait for a visa to military-ruled Myanmar, where Suu Kyi spent much of the past 21 years locked up.
Under house arrest, the democracy champion had no telephone or Internet access and only limited contact with the outside world. It has been about 10 years since she last saw Aris or her elder son, Alexander.
The daughter of Myanmar\’s assassinated independence hero General Aung San was released less than a week after the first election in 20 years, dismissed by many as a sham for cementing the military regime\’s grip on power.
When her freedom was granted, crowds of jubilant supporters gathered outside her home to glimpse the charismatic activist, seen by many as the best hope for democratic change after almost five decades of army rule.
Suu Kyi\’s long struggle for democracy has come at great personal sacrifice. Her husband, a British academic, died in 1999, and in the final stages of his battle with cancer the junta refused him a visa to see his wife.
Many believe that if she were to leave Myanmar — formerly known as Burma — the ruling generals would never allow her to return.
Her sons collected the Nobel peace prize on behalf of their mother in 1991, but have otherwise tended to avoid the media spotlight.
Aris had an "emotional" telephone conversation with his mother on the evening of her release, according to the British embassy in Bangkok.
NLD sources said the pair were expected to visit Yangon\’s Shwedagon pagoda on Wednesday — the famed temple where Suu Kyi launched her political career with a rousing speech calling for democracy in 1988.
It was a relatively late entry into politics for Oxford-educated Suu Kyi, who had seemed settled in Britain but returned to Yangon that year to nurse her sick mother, as protests erupted against the army and were crushed.
Suu Kyi swept the NLD to victory in 1990 elections but was never allowed to take power. Her party was disbanded after boycotting this month\’s poll, in response to rules that seemed designed to bar its leader from participating.
The decision to boycott deeply split the pro-democracy movement, which Suu Kyi now faces the task of reuniting.
Myanmar\’s Supreme Court has refused to hear her lawsuit against the junta for dissolving the party ahead of the election, an official said on Monday, and her legal team is due to discuss its next move with the opposition leader.
Nine weekly news journals which gave prominent coverage to Suu Kyi\’s release have reportedly been suspended by the Myanmar authorities.