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Son of Myanmar’s Suu Kyi ‘concerned’ as mother marks birthday in junta detention

File image of a Burmese protester wearing a shirt depicting detained Myanmar civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi during a demonstration in Bangkok
File image of a Burmese protester wearing a shirt depicting detained Myanmar civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi during a demonstration in Bangkok - Copyright AFP Jack TAYLOR
File image of a Burmese protester wearing a shirt depicting detained Myanmar civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi during a demonstration in Bangkok - Copyright AFP Jack TAYLOR

The son of Myanmar democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi is “concerned” about her health, he told AFP on Wednesday, as the Nobel laureate turned 79, passing another birthday in military detention.

Suu Kyi has been detained by the military since it toppled her government and seized power in 2021, plunging the Southeast Asian nation into turmoil.

The Nobel laureate is serving a 27-year sentence imposed by a junta court after a trial condemned by rights groups as a sham to shut her out of politics.

Suu Kyi has now spent almost a quarter of her life under house arrest in jail at the hands of the military, whose iron grip on politics she has battled for decades, her son Kim Aris told AFP.

“While I am sure maymay’s many years under house arrest will have prepared her for her current period of isolation, given her age and ongoing health issues, I am concerned about her circumstances,” he said, using a Burmese word for mother.

Suu Kyi, who remains hugely popular in Myanmar, has been largely hidden from view since the coup, appearing only in grainy state media photos taken during court proceedings.

Local media reported that during her months-long trial, Suu Kyi had suffered dizzy spells, vomiting and at times had been unable to eat because of a tooth infection.

In April, the junta said she had been given “necessary care” as temperatures in the military-built capital Naypyidaw, where she is believed to be held, reached 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit).

– Arrests –

Local media reported that supporters of Suu Kyi had held gatherings to mark her birthday, including wearing flowers in their hair — long her signature look.

Authorities arrested 22 people for marking Suu Kyi’s birthday, local media reported Wednesday.

Police in Mandalay, Myanmar’s second-largest city, arrested 22 people who had posted pictures of themselves wearing flowers in their hair, Eleven Media reported, citing an anonymous official.

Other local media said around a dozen had been arrested in the central Myanmar city for wearing flowers or praying with them in public. 

A prominent pro-junta Telegram account posted several photos claiming to show those arrested, including one of five people with their legs placed in stocks.

The military seized power making unsubstantiated claims of fraud during 2020 elections won resoundingly by Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD).

The junta’s subsequent crackdown on dissent has sparked a widespread armed uprising that the military is struggling to crush.

The junta has rebuffed numerous requests by foreign leaders and diplomats to meet Suu Kyi.

Her only known encounter with a foreign envoy since the coup came in July last year, when then-Thai foreign minister Don Pramudwinai said he had met her for more than an hour. 

Her son Kim told AFP in February that she was in “strong spirits” after receiving a letter from her — their first communication since she was detained in the coup.

There had been no communication since, he said Wednesday, adding that he had been given no information about her location or condition.

“As always I appeal to the military junta to free maymay and all other political prisoners and to respect the overwhelming vote of the people for democracy and freedom,” he said.

AFP
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With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

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