More than 50 people gathered at a hall Friday in Tokyo’s Toshima Ward to mourn the death of Michael Aris, who was married to Myanmar opposition leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.
Ye Htut, chairman of the Japan branch of Myanmar’s National League for Democracy Liberated Area, offered deep condolences to Suu Kyi and her two sons.
Aris, a British scholar who specialized in Tibetan studies at Oxford University, died of prostate cancer last month in London at the age of 53. “It’s very sad that our goddess to promote democracy in Burma lost someone who truly supported her,” Ye Htut said in Burmese at the multireligious memorial service. “We appreciate what Dr. Aris did for his wife, which was also for the Burmese. At the same time, we are angry at the (Myanmar) military regime,” he said.
Repeated requests to Myanmar’s junta by Aris for a visa to visit his wife before he died proved futile. Although the junta offered to allow Suu Kyi to leave Myanmar to see her husband in Britain, she did not accept the offer, fearing she would not be allowed to return.
Sumie Iwata, executive director of the National Christian Council Center for Christian Repose to Asian Issues, said she believes Suu Kyi’s decision to stay in Myanmar was right because she feels she would not have been allowed to return to her homeland.
She also said Aris’ visa rejections have only fueled support for his wife while generating international criticism of the military regime.