Our acquaintance started way back as far as the 60's. We got connected through Aunty Dora who adored you like a daughter she never had. Zali went to school in Worcester and was invited to visit her. He became a regular visitor at your home, a hospitality he appreciated because you provided him a home away from home. After you left Oxford, Zali went to see Aunty Dora several times before she died. At Aunty Dora's funeral service at Oxford we got to meet the Free Burma group, as well as Alexander, Kim and family.
In addition to Zali you treated us like a family. I still cherish the memory when we celebrated Christmas at your home in Oxford when you served the traditional Christmas fruit cake your mother in law prepared. You looked lovely and sweet surrounded by your family. Upon parting Michael mentioned in passing, "Uncle, we are not involved in the movement against Ne Win." Neither did we ask him to join us. He was aware that we were actively involved against the atrocities that the Ne Win regime unleashed that caused a lot of suffering and pain amongst the Burmese. In 1988, you eventually came home to take care of your ailing mother and was swept in the upheaval of that time when thousands of people rose up against the oppressive military regime.
You were detained by the military for not less than 15 years for speaking up for justice and peace, separated from Michael and the boys. Over and over again you were maligned as being influenced by foreign forces as you had married a "foreigner", a dirty word to the xenophobic military regime. Even your brother became estranged from you.
You were held incommunicado, Michael's contact with you was severely curtailed. I remember vividly how at one time Michael had to leave Rangoon because his visa had expired. He had no place to go and no funds to sustain himself. We arranged for him to stay at a safe place in Bangkok before he was allowed to go back to see you, even for a short tome.
We often called upon Michael to inquire about your safety and health. I mentioned that the democratic movement should heed the demands of the various ethnic groups for more autonomy. Michael's answer was: "Aunty, right now the army must return to the barracks."
In the United States and all over the world, pressure was borne upon the military regime to release you. Amnesty International made it a priority to have you unconditionally released. With thousands of US residents we organized rallies as well demonstrations in front of the Burmese Embassy, the White House, and lobbied Congressional representatives. Congressman Bill Richardson was allowed to see you in Rangoon. We prayed for you in churches throughout the US. Chapman College, Bucknell University, and American University were amongst those institutions that championed and honored your cause.
In the meantime we kept close contact with Michael. We joined him at the Nobel Peace Prize Award in 1991. I shed tears when they played Johann Pachelbel's "Canon in D". According to Michael you used to play that piece on the piano. At the the ceremony, Alexander stood tall and dignified when he made the acceptance speech. "Today," he said," the people in Burma could stand a bit taller...." Michael proudly said that Alexander wrote the speech himself, he was only sixteen then.
You were very generous in donating the Nobel Prize reward to establish scholarships for Burmese students for their education abroad. Zali and your friends in England still keep the funds alive and the young people were grateful for your financial support.
Your children suffered a lot, separated from you for many years because of the Burmese political upheaval which was beyond their control. One wonders how this separation affects them emotionally. We admire your family's sacrifice for the sake of freedom, justice and peace for the Burmese people.
We had the chance to visit Michael several times at Oxford as well as in the United States. In the middle of his apartment was a big picture of you. We were stricken with sorrow when Michael suffered from prostate cancer. He was not allowed to see you for the last time. You stayed in Rangoon for fear that the regime would not allow you back. Michael died. Was it an ultimate sacrifice? The xenophobic military regime stated that you were not a true patriot since you were married to a foreigner, a dirty word for the xenophobic military regime. Did Michael take the ultimate sacrifice to forever eliminate this curse brought upon you by the regime? One only wondered why so many men survived the battle against prostate cancer, but not Michael.
We met you clandestinely in Rangoon . I cried when I saw you and you chastised me for crying, "you have struggle so much and suffered for such a long time," I said. You stoically said: "the longer the struggle the sooner it will end." The Military Intelligence Service got hold of our meeting and the Burmese Ambassador in Washington DC told Uncle that no more visa would be issued to him.
The next time we met in Rangoon you were already released and you were busy meeting dignitaries, foreign and domestic. You were kind enough to present us with a lacquer tray, "For a remembrance." you said. We will treasure the gift. In exchange we brought you some chocolates, your favorite comfort food. We asked whether you feel safe now. "Yes," you said, " I am safe behind these tall walls. And I have my dog that Kim gave me. He is very protective."
How time has changed. Today you don't have to fear the military regime since you are part of it. You have become the Prima Donna of the military and oblivious to the suffering of the people; the Kachins that were slaughtered as well as the Rohingyas. You have declared the accusations of genocide of the Rohingyas as fake news. You stated that you are for law and order, obviously regardless of justice.
The military stated that the Rohingyas are not Burmese but Bengalis who settled in Burma for a better life. Is this not unlike your forefathers who came from Central Asia/Mongolia to seek a better life in Burma; not unlike the Portuguese, the English and the Indians who seek a greener pasture. They make up for what we now call Burmese The denial of the genocide committed by the military is reinforced by your stance and statements in agreement of this atrocities. The Stockholm Syndrome apparently hits you when the victim eventually become part of the oppressor. Remember Patricia Hearst? She joined her kidnappers and robbed a bank.
It is a shame that you disregard the Buddhist tenet of ahimsa, thou shall not kill. Instead, you support the narrow-minded Buddhists that consider killing Muslims not a sin. Do you not heed The Dalai Lama's pronouncement that Buddhist monks do not kill? Bishop Tutu, the Dalai Lama, Malala, as well as the Pope urged you to work against discrimination and justice. Yet you remain unmoved.
Your esteemed father spent his life to establish the military for the good of the nation. On the other hand, the present military regime work for their personal coffers. They have plundered the nation's natural resources for their power and wealth while the rest of the nation suffers.
Like so many observers, Uncle witnessed the suffering of the Rohingyas at Cox's Bazaar in Bangladesh. They lost their homes and saw their family members killed by the military. There are factual accounts how the military used rape as a weapon of destruction. That is factual and that is the truth.
You cannot be blind to the truth. Justice will prevail. The international institutions will bring "the perpetrators of crime against humanity, including murder, forcible transfer, deportation and persecution on political, racial or religious grounds" to justice. Remember Pol Pot in Cambodia? The Serb leaders in Kosovo?
I fear for the destiny of Aung San Suu Kyi, the former icon of democracy. For being unmoved and unconcerned you are being complicit in the atrocities perpetrated by the military. Is Michael's sacrifice for nothing? Is the suffering of Alexander and Kim for naught? Will you be the Marie Antoinette of Burma? Stand up for law and order with justice and redeem yourself, Suu.
Uncle and I are at the sunset of our life, God willing we will always strife for justice . As John Wesley said:
Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.