Burma Issues Passport to Aung San Suu Kyi

Posted May 8th, 2012 at 11:00 am (UTC-5)
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Burma has issued a passport to democracy activist and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, allowing her to travel abroad for the first time in 24 years.

An official from her National League for Democracy party said the passport, valid for the next three years, was received Tuesday in Rangoon. The document clears the way for the Nobel laureate's scheduled trip next month to Europe.

Aung San Suu Kyi, who spent much of the past two decades under military ordered house arrest, is expected to visit the Norwegian capital in June to finally receive the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize in person.

She is also planning to visit Britain, where she lived for years with her late husband and two sons, until returning to her homeland in 1988. She was thrust into the public spotlight that year as pro-democracy protests erupted across the Southeast Asian nation.

At that time, she was required to turn in her passport. She has not set foot outside the country since, fearing the military junta that held on to power until 2011 would not permit her to return.

Since taking office last year, the nominally civilian Burmese government has pushed through a series of initiatives aimed at promoting democratic reforms and persuading Western government to lift economic sanctions.

Both the United States and the European Union have begun lifting some sanctions. But U.S. and European leaders have linked the pace of further easements on continued reforms by the new Burmese government, including stepped up efforts to account for all political prisoners jailed during five decades of Burmese military rule.