Aung San Suu Kyi: The Love Elegy of ‘Mandela Mandela’

  People refer to her as “Mrs.”, and a biographical film “Mrs.” based on her has begun to be released worldwide. Compared to when she was first placed under house arrest 20 years ago, her country and people have also undergone significant changes. In the hearts of the Myanmar people, she is a source of hope and faith. People still maintain the same respect and love for Aung San Suu Kyi, the “perfect prisoner” known as “Myanmar Mandela”.
  However, for all this, she paid not only freedom and time, but also the most cherished family and love in her life!
  April 1st is a big day for Aung San Suu Kyi and Myanmar. Her National League for Democracy will compete for the 48 vacant seats in parliamentary by-elections today. Twelve years ago, in the same political arena, she competed for power. Under normal circumstances, she should have become the prime minister of the country, but the military government refused to recognize the result of the election, and she was severely imprisoned. She won the Nobel Peace Prize, but lost the opportunity to receive the award and speech, as well as her family and freedom…
  On November 13, 2010, on the banks of Yin Ya Lake in Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi regained her freedom. Since then, countless politicians, celebrities and journalists from various countries have visited her in Myanmar. Those who saw her for the first time were amazed that she was so similar to her father, who is known as the “Father of the Nation” in Burma, the national hero Deqin Aung San who led the resistance against British colonial rule, Japanese occupation, and national independence. .
  Although supporters see her as another Aung San, a spiritual leader who carried the banner of her father’s generation, in fact, Aung San Suu Kyi’s time with her father was very short. On July 19, 1947, just before the country’s independence, General Aung San was assassinated by a political opponent. At the time, Aung San Suu Kyi was only two years old.
  But the blood running in her veins made Aung San Suu Kyi stick to it for 22 years after she accidentally encountered Myanmar politics, and she did not back down, let alone leave. This is the life of “Mrs.” Aung San Suu Kyi! But for Aung San Suu Kyi, “mother and wife”, 1988 was a crossroads in her life. If it wasn’t for that phone call from her homeland, she might have lived a prosperous and comfortable life like most people, with her beloved husband and her two sons.
  
  A phone call rewrites love
  As the most well-known political prisoner in the world today, Aung San Suu Kyi paid a heavy personal price for her beliefs and perseverance in this struggle that lasted for more than two decades. And the most expensive of them is her love.
  Four years ago, when Rebecca Flein, the screenwriter of the movie “Mrs.”, began to search for information about Aung San Suu Kyi and wrote the script, she didn’t know that she revealed to the world such a poignant story. This contemporary love story is romantic and sentimental, and it sounds more like a Hollywood tragic drama. Under the arrangement of fate, a delicate and reserved oriental girl meets a handsome and enthusiastic western youth. True love never changes, but in the end they have to live and die.
  For Mike Aris, the story begins with falling in love at first sight.
  In 1964, the mother of a diplomat sent Aung San Suu Kyi to Oxford University to study politics, philosophy and economics. After graduation, she worked as an assistant secretary at the United Nations Office in New York, taught at Oxford University, and later in Bhutan and Kyoto University in South Asia. As a visiting scholar in research centers and other places, she has lived in countries other than Myanmar for 28 years.
  During her studies, Aung San Suu Kyi’s guardian, Duke Gore Booth, introduced her to Mike Aris. At the time he was still studying history at Durham University. He discovered that Aung San Suu Kyi was the romantic embodiment of his love for the East. However, when she accepted his marriage proposal, she made one condition: as long as her country needed her, she must go back. Mike Aris agreed.
  In 1972, Aung San Suu Kyi married Mike Aris, a British scholar of Tibetan culture and a professor at Oxford University. Over the next 16 years, Aung San Suu Kyi sublimated her extraordinary charm to become the perfect housewife. After the birth of her two sons, Alexander and Kim, she became a doting mother, known for her meticulous party planning and food preparation for her children. To the dismay of many of her feminist friends, she even insists on ironing her husband’s socks and tidying up the room herself. For Mike Aris and Aung San Suu Kyi, this may have been the happiest time of their lives.
  Although Aung San Suu Kyi is married to British academic Mike Aris and is eligible for a British passport, she refuses to do so. In Myanmar, it is illegal to have dual citizenship. As her husband said, one day, fate will tell them to choose between home and country. He clearly knew that Aung San Suu Kyi was by no means an ordinary Burmese woman. She had the blood of Aung San, the leader of the Burmese independence movement in her body, and was born with the people of the country. And this day has finally come.
  In 1988, Aung San Suu Kyi’s sons were 12 and 14 years old respectively. She was reading a book with her husband at their Oxford home one quiet night when a call came to say her mother had suffered a stroke.
  She immediately flew to Yangon, where she had planned to go back for a few weeks, only to find that the entire city was in turmoil. A series of violent clashes against the military have brought the country to the brink of shock. When she came to Yangon Hospital to care for her mother, she found the ward filled with injured and even critically ill students. Public gatherings were prohibited at the time, so the hospital quickly became the epicenter of this leaderless revolutionary movement, and news of the “return of the great general’s daughter” spread like wildfire.
  Aung San Suu Kyi’s fate is inevitably intertwined with Myanmar’s political revolution in full swing.
  
  In the name of love, never give up
  When a petition group of scholars wanted Aung San Suu Kyi to lead a pro-democracy movement, she did not hesitate to say yes. On August 26 of that year, on the steps of the Shwedagon Pagoda in Rangoon, she spoke to the demonstrators for the first time. In September 1988, the military government brutally suppressed the pro-democracy movement, but military generals promised to hold general elections. Just two months ago she was a dutiful housewife, but now she has become the vanguard of an uprising against the junta. In the political arena of Myanmar since then, Aung San Suu Kyi and her supporters have always been a force that no one dares to underestimate.
  Mike Aris, who remained in the UK, could only anxiously search for news of his wife’s stay in Burma: despite the junta’s efforts to thwart her career and the arrests and murders of many of her party comrades, her popularity among the people grew. Mike Aris was very concerned that she might be assassinated like her father. So it was not until Aung San Suu Kyi was placed under house arrest in 1989 that he was a little relieved: at least it would protect her from danger to her life.
  In May 1990, Myanmar held a general election, and Aung San Suu Kyi’s party “National League for Democracy” won an absolute advantage, winning 392 of the 495 seats in the parliament. Under normal circumstances, she should have become the country’s prime minister, but the military government refused to recognize the results of the election, declared the NLD an illegal organization, and continued to imprison Aung San Suu Kyi.
  For the freedom of his wife, Mike Aris never gave up his efforts. He began to switch roles, devoting his strength unreservedly, running in the international community and establishing Aung San Suu Kyi’s international image, so that the Burmese military government did not dare to hurt her. At the same time, he was careful not to let the world know about his efforts. Because once Aung San Suu Kyi becomes the new leader of the pro-democracy movement, the military government will seize her to marry a foreigner. In fact, the military government did use this to accuse Aung San Suu Kyi of being a traitor to the nation and a tool of British and American neo-colonial tactics.
  Over the next five years, as her son grew up and Aung San Suu Kyi remained under house arrest, she supported herself by studying meditation, dabbling in Buddhist scriptures, and studying the writings of Mandela and Gandhi. During this period Mike Aris received only two visits. In fact, this house arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi is very special because she can request to be sent to the airport and return to her home in the UK at any time, as long as she accepts the fate of being expelled from the country.
  But the couple hadn’t thought about her taking this step at all. In fact, despite his constant pressure as a historian, Mike Aris is well aware that his wife’s career will be part of the evolution of history. He still displays the book she was reading at home when she got the call calling her to go to Burma, and decorates the walls with all the awards she has won so far, including the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize. There was also a huge picture of her hanging by his bedside.
  
  The world is safe and full of laws
  In 1999, Mike Aris learned that he had terminal cancer. For the rest of his days, his only wish was to see his wife one last time. He phoned her with the bad news and immediately set about applying for a visa to Myanmar so he could say goodbye to her in person. But his application was rejected by the Burmese military government, and after that, dragging his debilitating body, he insisted on applying more than 30 times. Even many celebrities, including the Pope, Clinton, etc., wrote petitions for him, all of which were useless. Finally, a Burmese military government official approached Aung San Suu Kyi and told her that of course she could say goodbye to her husband, provided she returned to Oxford.
  Choose your home country or your family? The marital separation issue that has plagued Aung San Suu Kyi for years has now become an ultimatum. She was mad because once she left Burma, they both knew it would mean permanent exile—their years of fighting together would be zero. She took advantage of her time at the British embassy to call Mike Aris, who was adamant that she didn’t even think about leaving Burma.
  Later, Mike Aris’ younger brother, Anthony, told something he never told anyone else. He said that when Aung San Suu Kyi realized that she would never see her husband Mike Aris in her life, she put on his favorite dress, put a rose on her head, and went to the British Embassy in Burma alone. The embassy recorded a farewell video for her husband, telling him that his love has always been his spiritual support. The footage was later smuggled out of the country, but by the time it arrived in the UK, Mike Aris had been dead for two days.
  In 1999, Aung San Suu Kyi was devastated when she learned of her husband’s death. She wrote in her diary: “The separation of my family is one of the prices I must pay for fighting for a free Myanmar.”