Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi to visit UK, Norway

Burma's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi  celebrates Thingyan, Burma's new year water festival, in front of her home in Yangon 16 April, 2012 Ms Suu Kyi had previously refused to leave Burma for fear that she would not be allowed back in

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Burma: Battle for Democracy

Burma’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi is planning to travel abroad for the first time in 24 years, officials say.

The Norwegian foreign ministry said she was expected to visit in June.

A spokesman from her party also told the BBC that she would visit the UK.

The Nobel laureate spent years under house arrest while Burma was ruled by a military junta. She has previously refused to leave Burma for fear that she would not be allowed to return.

The exact dates of her travel – her first trip outside Burma since 1988 – have not been confirmed.

YANGON, MYANMAR - APRIL 1:  National League fo...

YANGON, MYANMAR - APRIL 1: National League for Democracy (NLD) supporters celebrate their victory in the parliamentary elections outside the party headquarters April 1, 2012 in Yangon, Myanmar. The National League for Democracy declared Daw Aung San Suu Kyi had won a seat in Myanmar’s Parliament election. Aung San Suu Kyi stated that by-elections would not be completely free and fair because of irregularities during preparations. The historical by-elections are seen as an important vote of confidence for the country as it continues on the road to political and diplomatic reform. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

British Prime Minister David Cameron invited Ms Suu Kyi to visit when he met her last week in Burma, where a new civilian government is undertaking a process of reform that has been welcomed by the international community.

Correspondents say her willingness to travel abroad shows her growing confidence both in the reform process and Burma’s President Thein Sein.

Refused to leave

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Aung San Suu Kyi

  • 1989: Put under house arrest as Burma junta declares martial law
  • 1990: NLD wins election; military disregards result
  • 1991: Wins Nobel Peace Prize
  • 1995: Released from house arrest; movements restricted
  • 2000-02: Second period of house arrest
  • May 2003: Detained after clash between NLD and junta forces, more house arrest
  • Sept 2007: First public appearance since 2003, greeting protesting Buddhist monks
  • Nov 2010: Released from house arrest a week after first polls in 20 years
  • Aug 2011: Meets Burmese President Thein Sein
  • Nov 2011: NLD says it will rejoin Burma’s political process
  • April 2012: Elected to parliament as NLD takes landslide win in by-elections

Aung San Suu Kyi, the daughter of Burma’s independence hero General Aung San, studied in the UK at Oxford University and met her husband, academic Michael Aris, there.

After stints of living in Japan and Bhutan, she settled in the UK to raise their two children. Then in 1988 she travelled back to Rangoon to look after her ill mother.

It was then amid the mass 1988 uprising that she emerged as Burma’s pro-democracy leader.

She was placed under house arrest and went on to spend most of the following two decades in some form of detention. Her National League for Democracy party won elections in 1990 but was not allowed to take power.

In 1991, Ms Suu Kyi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her pro-democracy efforts but was not able to travel to Oslo to receive the award.

When her husband fell ill military authorities offered to allow her to travel to the UK to see him, but she feared she would not be allowed back into the country if she left. He died of cancer in March 1999.

Ms Suu Kyi was released from house arrest in November 2010, shortly after elections that saw a transition from military to civilian rule.

Since then the military-backed civilian government has embarked on a process of reform that has seen hundreds of political prisoners freed.

The NLD – which boycotted the 2010 polls because of election laws it said were unfair – has now rejoined the political process.

Earlier this month, Ms Suu Kyi was elected to parliament in a by-election which saw her party win 43 out of the 45 seats it contested.

Western nations have eased some sanctions in response to the reform process and promised further movement if it continues.

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