In comments that might surprise many, Myanmar’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has said that she remains “fond” of her country’s army despite the way it treated her and its brutal suppression of democracy.

“It’s genuine, I’m fond of the army,” she told the BBC in a candid interview recorded at her home in Mynamar in December.

The Nobel Laureate, who spent 15 of the last 21 years under house arrest ordered by Mynamar’s military dictatorship, insisted that she felt no embarrassment at being called a “poster girl” for the army.

“There are many who have criticised me for being what they call a poster girl for the army — very flattering to be seen as a poster girl for anything at this time of life — but I think the truth is I am very fond of the army, because I always thought of it as my father’s army,” she said.

Reminded of the atrocities committed by the army against its own people, she replied: “It’s terrible what they’ve done and I don’t like what they’ve done at all, but if you love somebody I think you love her or him in spite of and not because of.”

‘Father of the Army’

Ms. Suu Kyi explained that she grew up being told that her father “was the father of the army and that all soldiers were his sons and that therefore they were part of my family”.

“You always look forward to a time when they will be able to redeem themselves.”

Ms. Suu Kyi, who leads the opposition National League of Democracy (NLD), was first placed under house arrest by the military junta in 1989 after she returned home from Britain to nurse her sick mother.

Her husband, the academic Michael Aris, was refused visa to visit her before he died of cancer in 1999.

She said that she had warned her husband before their wedding that “that my country would always come first”.

“I never thought that domesticity was my whole life.”

BBC presenter Kirsty Young, who interviewed her for Radio 4’s famous “Desert Island Discs” programme , said she was so overwhelmed by her that she forgot a key question on air and had to be prompted by her producer.