Fri, May 25, 2012 - Page 1 News List

Aung San Suu Kyi in first overseas visit since 1988


Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi is set to travel overseas next week for the first time in more than two decades to attend an economic forum in Bangkok, her party said yesterday.

The former political prisoner’s plan to leave her homeland for the first time since 1988 is the latest sign of dramatic political change sweeping through the country, where decades of outright military rule ended last year.

“She will go to the World Economic Forum [on East Asia] in Thailand,” said Nyan Win, a spokesman for the Nobel laureate’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party.

The gathering of senior government officials and business leaders from around the region is being held between Wednesday and Friday next week at a luxury hotel in the Thai capital.

Nyan Win said Aung San Suu Kyi would arrive in Bangkok on Monday, but was unable to give more details about her planned activities.

The announcement came as several NLD members were detained for questioning in Pyay, north of Yangon, over Myanmar’s first major protests in years.

They were later released, but the government warned those who have demonstrated in recent days against power cuts in several cities, including Yangon and Mandalay, to stay within the law.

The rallies, the first since a deadly crackdown on monk-led protests in 2007, are being closely watched as a test of the new quasi-civilian government’s tolerance of public discontent.

Burmese President Thein Sein, who is credited with a string of political reforms since taking office last year, is also attending the Bangkok forum, according to a government official, who did not want to be named.

Aung San Suu Kyi was released from seven straight years of house arrest in November 2010 and has now been issued with a passport, enabling her to travel abroad for the first time in 24 years.

She also plans to go to Europe, where she is scheduled to address an International Labor Organization conference in Geneva, Switzerland, on June 14.

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