Fears over Aung San Suu Kyi’s health as military junta denies request for urgent medical care

Fears are growing over the health of Aung San Suu Kyi after a request for urgent medical care was denied by military authorities in Myanmar – with her youngest son calling for the junta to reverse the “callous and cruel” decision regarding his mother.

According to sources within the country, Ms Suu Kyi, 78, had been prescribed a number of medications by the doctor treating her, including for gum disease, which has left her unable to eat due to pain. Yet, a request for private medical care to treat Ms Suu Kyi – who was imprisoned after her democratically-elected government was ousted in a military coup in 2021 – has been denied despite it being made by prison authorities.

Speaking to The Independent, Kim Aris has expressed deep concern about the consequences for his mother, saying that he believes Ms Suu Kyi has been experiencing bouts of vomiting and severe dizziness. He added that being unable to eat could put her life at risk.

“To deny a sick prisoner access to recommended medical care is callous and cruel,” said Mr Aris, a British national. “To the best of my knowledge, my mother has been vomiting and has severe dizziness as a result of her ill health.”

“Urgent care has been recommended by prison authorities, but this has been denied by the military junta. Anyone who has such painful gum disease that they are unable to eat obviously has their entire health at risk if suitable treatment is denied,” he added.

Mr Aris wants his mother to be allowed to return to her home in Myanmar’s largest city Yangon – formally known as Rangoon – in order to be treated. “I urge the authorities in Myanmar to relent and act in a humane way,” he said.

There were suggestions last month that Ms Suu Kyi could be placed under house arrest, after the military junta pardoned a number of cases against her as part of a wider amnesty. However, military authorities have not confirmed any such move and Ms Suu Kyi is still in prison.

The continued detention of Ms Suu Kyi has sparked outrage from the international community. While authorities pardoned her over five of the 19 cases that the former leader faces, that merely brought down the number of years she faces in jail from 33 to 27. At her age, that is still effectively a life sentence. The slew of cases against Ms Suu Kyi is seen by both her supporters and officials in the West as trumped up, aimed at discrediting her in order to legitimise the military’s takeover, while also preventing the former leader from returning to politics.

Myanmar’s supreme court is said to have declined requests by Ms Suu Kyi’s legal team for special appeals in the five cases in which she has been pardoned, saying that she has already been granted clemency. Ms Suu Kyi’s team is continuing with the appeals process in order to prove her innocence. Those five cases, the earliest convictions Ms Suu Kyi faced, include charges over allegedly violating coronavirus restrictions, illegally importing and possessing walkie-talkies, as well as sedition.

There are appeals in the works for a number of the other 14 cases that Ms Suu Kyi faces, although her legal team have faced a number of hurdles including not being able to meet with the former leader in person. Despite a number of requests to see Ms Suu Kyi, lawyers have not been unable to do so since December.

Mr Aris said that it is “heinous” that his mother is facing such debilitating health issues on top of her unjust detention.

“To hold someone illegally in prison, a move condemned by the outside world, is compounded into further and heinous wrong when basic human rights are abrogated,” he said.