Biography of Michael Aris (1946-1999)

Professor of Tibetan Studies and Himalayan, husband of the Burmese democratic leader and Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, Aung San Suu Kyi, born in Havana (Cuba) in 1946 and died in London (United Kingdom) on March 27, 1999.

English father and French Canadian mother, he spent his life in different places of the world: Oxford, Bhutan, Burma, Nepal, Sikkim and Tibet. Educated in England, at Worth School, a small private Catholic Centre located in Sussex and Durham University where he graduated with honours in modern history in 1967. It was that year when he began studying Tibetan and Himalayan, who devoted the following years of his life. To do this, he settled in Bhutan, where he worked as researcher and private of the Bhutanese Royal family official guardian of Bhutan archives.

The teachings of the Tibetan Buddhists fed in an unwavering commitment to Tibetan Studies and Himalayan who also was awarded a unique ability to inspire and guide to a generation of scholars.

It was in Bhutan where he met who would later become his wife, the Burmese leader Suu Kyi. Together began a collaboration with the tortured politicians of the Burmese military regime that had a profound impact in their lives and their families. They married in 1972 and made numerous trips to Burma, until his wife decided to return to his country in 1988 to put at the forefront of the forces Democrats, represented in the Party National League for democracy (NLD), which they won by a large majority in elections held in 1990, but whose results were not accepted by the military.

Until she felt the duty to return to their country and both sacrifice their coexistence, spent several happy years in which they had two children: Alexander (1973) and Kim (1977). Was also a time in which Aris career took off with force with the publication of a series of books on the history of Bhutan: Bhutan: The Early History of a Himalayan Kingdom; Views of Medieval Bhutan: The Diary and Drawing of Samuel Davis 1783; Sources for the History of Bhutan and The Raven Crown: The Origins of the Buddhist Monarchy in Bhutan, as well as biographic works such as Pemalingpa and the Sixth Dalai Lama (1683-1706).

He also directed the international seminar on Tibetan Studies, held in Oxford in the summer of 1979 and dedicated to his former mentor Huhg Richardson, the last British representative in Tibet and the greater British eminence in Tibetan history. The conclusions of this seminar were later edited by Aris and Suu Kyi as Tibetan Studies in Honour of Hugh Richardson: Proccesings of the International Seminar on Tibetan Studies. Also worked on the edition of the unpublished works of Richardson, who appeared printed as High Peaks, Pure Heart: Collected Writings on Tibetan History and Culture, just a year before his death.

In 1998 he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, which could not overcome. The Burmese military junta denied Aris entry visa to see his wife. For his part, the leader of the Burmese refused to leave Burma to visit her husband because of the fear that authorities not allow it to enter their country again. He died precisely on his birthday and his wife received the news at her home in Rangoon. The Secretary of the U.S. Department of State, Madeleine Albright, said that "the doctor Aris sacrificed the company of his wife for ten years so she could be with her people in Burma fighting for human rights and democracy".