Son of Myanmar’s Detained Suu Kyi Creates Carving to Support Myanmar People

By The Irrawaddy 26 August 2022

He gave his mother Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to Myanmar for the sake of her people’s freedom and for justice, and he still has something more to give. This time, it is through his art that he is assisting the people, who have been suffering under the ruthless military regime.

A wooden relief carving created by ousted Myanmar leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s son Kim Aris, who is also known as Ko Htein Lin, is the prize in a global raffle launched on Thursday. All of the proceeds generated by the raffle will be donated to the fundraising program for Myanmar’s fight for democracy, its organizer said.

“Ko Htein Lin also is excited, wondering to what extent his handicraft will contribute to Myanmar,” Pencilo, a Myanmar Facebook influencer and organizer of the campaign, wrote on her page.

Myanmar has been in social and political turmoil since the military staged a coup last year to topple the country’s democratically elected government led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. The 77-year-old was arrested by the junta after the takeover and is now being held in solitary confinement in a prison. A vast majority of Myanmar’s people have rejected military rule since then, and an armed struggle has been launched against the regime. The junta still can’t control the country more than 18 months on, despite having killed more than 2,000 people so far.

Having received barely anything in the way of international assistance, Myanmar’s ongoing resistance movement relies mostly on support pooled from local and overseas Myanmar people. Those living abroad have launched donation campaigns funded by selling raffle tickets, among other activities, not only to feed and arm the young people fighting against the regime, but also to rehabilitate the communities destroyed by junta forces’ raids and arson attacks.

Ko Htein Lin is Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s youngest son. With the exception of a few brief meetings, they have been separated since 1988, when she returned to Myanmar from England and became involved in the country’s turbulent politics and the fight against the military dictatorship. The mother and son last saw each other in 2016. He is a carpenter.

Pencilo said she was contacted by someone who knows Ko Htein Lin, telling her that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s son was wondering if she could use his carving talents to help raise funds for Myanmar.

“He said he wanted to do something for Myanmar. He told me to help Myanmar by selling the carving he created with his professional skills. He hoped his work might generate US$3,000 or $4,000. I said you would get $300,000 or $400,000 for it, and he was thrilled,” she said.

The target seems possible. On the first day of the campaign on Thursday, 1,065 tickets were sold within 24 hours, generating US$106,500.

Ironically, while Ko Htein Lin was planning the campaign to sell the relief carving, his maternal uncle won a legal dispute over the sale of the family’s Yangon home, where Daw Aung San Suu Kyi stayed throughout her house arrest until her release in 2010.

Ko Htein Lin with his handcrafted wood panel. / Pencilo Facebook

The decision by the regime’s Supreme Court last week approving a petition from Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s older brother U Aung San Oo was seen by many people in Myanmar as a case of the brother stealing the home from his detained sister with the help of the junta. They also saw it as the junta’s latest attempt to remove every trace of her from the country, as prior to the coup, the petition had been rejected by the court.

Pencilo called for more support for the campaign, describing it as an opportunity to show Ko Htein Lin that the Myanmar people love not only Daw Aung San Suu Kyi but him as well for giving his mother to the country.

“He doesn’t stand aside when Myanmar is suffering. Instead, he stands with the people by doing something helpful for them,” the organizer said.

Tickets can be purchased here.