Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Suu Kyi to visit Oxford, Norway

Wednesday, 18 April 2012 15:41 Mizzima News

(Mizzima) – Aung San Suu Kyi will leave Burma for the first time in 24 years to visit Norway and Britain, following her successful election to the Burmese Parliament.

She will visit Oxford, where she attended university in the 1970s, and Oslo, said Nyan Win, a spokesman for the National League for Democracy (NLD) party on Wednesday. The trip will reportedly take place sometime in June. Suu Kyi received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, but was not able to claim it because she was under house arrest at the time.

Aung San Suu Kyi and British Prime Minister David Cameron walk together on the grounds of her lakeside home in Rangoon. Photo: Mizzima/Ye Min

The Telegraph newspaper reported that Cameron extended his invitation to visit Britain during a private discussion with Suu Kyi last week in her home before they were joined by Andy Heyn, the British ambassador to Burma, private secretaries and press advisers, for tea and traditional Burmese sweets.

In a small room in her house, they spoke about how to secure the release of political prisoners, whether sanctions should be suspended and how Britain can help strengthen the country’s rule of law, the paper said.

At a press conference a short while later, Cameron mentioned his invitation  to visit her “beloved” Oxford, and she said that in the past she would not have even thought it possible, but now she would consider a trip, which was a sign of “great progress” in Burma.

Suu Kyi’s late husband, Michael Aris, who taught at Oxford, died in 1999, while she was being held under house arrest in Rangoon.

Suu Kyi was detained by the military regime in 1990, and spent 15 of the next 21 years in detention until her release in November 2010. She steadfastly refused to leave the country during her brief periods of freedom for fear of not being allowed to return.

Their story was dramatized in the movie, “The Lady,” with Malaysian star Michelle Yeoh protraying Suu Kyi.

Suu Kyi's mother, Khin Kyi, was appointed Burmese ambassador to India and Nepal in 1960, and Suu Kyi followed her there. She graduated from Lady Shri Ram College in New Delhi with a degree in politics in 1964.

She continued her education at St Hugh's College, Oxford, obtaining a B.A. degree in philosophy, politics and economics in 1969. After graduating, she lived in New York City with a family friend and worked at the U.N. for three years, primarily on budget matters, writing daily to her future husband, Dr. Michael Aris.

In 1972, Suu Kyi married Aris, a scholar of Tibetan culture. Subsequently, she earned a Ph.D. at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, in 1985.

In 1988 Suu Kyi returned to Burma, at first to tend to her ailing mother but later to lead the pro-democracy movement. Aris' visit in Christmas 1995 turned out to be the last time that he and Suu Kyi met, as Suu Kyi remained in Burma and the Burmese dictatorship denied him any further entry visas.

Aris was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1997. The Burmese government would not grant him a visa, saying that they did not have the facilities to care for him, and instead urged Aung San Suu Kyi to leave the country to visit him. She was at that time temporarily free from house arrest but was unwilling to depart, fearing that she would be refused re-entry if she left.

Aris died on March 27, 1999. Since 1989, when his wife was first placed under house arrest, he had seen her only five times, the last of which was for Christmas in 1995. She was also separated from her two children, who live in the United Kingdom, but starting in 2011, they have visited her in Burma.

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