Aung San Suu Kyi given first passport in 24 years


Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi greets supporters from the gate of her house on the occasion of festivities marking the country's new year in Yangon on April 16, 2012. Suu Kyi plans to leave Myanmar for the first time in 24 years, to visit Britain and Norway.



Myanmar opposition leader and pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi has been given a passport for the first time in 24 years.

Suu Kyi, who led her National League for Democracy (NLD) party to a landslide 43-seat victory in by-elections on April 1, has spent much of the past two decades under house arrest in the city of Yangon, Myanmar, also called Burma.

She was released from her most recent confinement in November 2010, and plans to travel to Norway in June to accept the Nobel Peace Prize she was awarded in 1991, as well as Britain, where she lived with her late husband and sons for many years, the BBC reports.

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According to the Associated Press, Suu Kyi, 66, has not had a passport since she returned to Myanmar in 1988 to look after her sick mother, when she was required to turn the travel document over to the authorities.

Pro-democracy demonstrations were breaking out in the country at the time, and Suu Kyi – as leader of Myanmar’s pro-democracy movement – was subsequently put under house arrest. She has not left Myanmar since, and last saw her British husband, who died from cancer in 1999, in 1995.

Nyan Win, spokesman for the NLD, told the Agence France Presse on Tuesday that Suu Kyi’s passport, which is valid for three years, “is in her hand now.” Suu Kyi reportedly applied for the document after winning election to parliament at the start of April, and her decision to travel overseas is viewed as a sign of her confidence in the government of President Thein Sein, who initiated reforms after taking power last year. 

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