Suu Kyi to Visit UK and Norway

By The Irrawaddy 18 April 2012

RANGOON―Burmese MP-elect Aung San Suu Kyi will visit Norway and the United Kingdom this June for her first trip overseas in 24 years.

Nyan Win, a spokesman for Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party, confirmed to The Irrawaddy on Wednesday that the trip would take place but said he was not yet sure of the exact schedule.

The pro-democracy icon has not left Burma since she returned from Britain to visit her ailing mother in 1988 and became the focus of the populist movement to oust the ruling military junta.

Since that time, the 66-year-old was always reluctant to leave the Southeast Asian nation in the belief that she would not be permitted to return by the authorities who feared her central role in Burma’s struggle for democracy.

The Nobel Laureate lived in Oxford up until returning to her homeland and is likely to visit to the university city where she formerly studied and met her devoted husband Michael Aris.

Her dedication to the plight of the Burmese people led her not even to visit Aris before he died of cancer in Britain in 1999.

Suu Kyi was first detained in 1989 and has spent 15 of the last 21 years in prison or under house arrest.

The announcement comes after the landmark visit to Burma last week by British Prime Minister David Cameron when he officially invited Suu Kyi to visit.

The UK premier made the trip following the landslide victory of the NLD in the April 1 by-elections that saw the party gain 43 out of 45 contested seats.

“Two years ago I would have said thank you for the invitation, but sorry,” Suu Kyi was quoted by Reuters news agency of Cameron’s invitation.

Suu Kyi was awarded the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize by the Nobel Committee of Norway, but her house arrest meant that she was never able to travel to Oslo to accept the award in person.

Observers believe that her decision to visit the country this summer is in part to express her gratitude for that honor and also to thank the nation for its continued support of her efforts.