Suu Kyi hopes to travel outside Myanmar soon


HONG KONG — Myanmar democracy campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi said Thursday she hoped to travel abroad “in the near future,” in what would be the Nobel laureate’s first visit to another country since 1988. Suu Kyi, who spent much of the past 22 years under house arrest until her release in 2010, said she would like to travel outside Myanmar, also known as Burma, if only for “a matter of days, or even a matter of hours.” “I hope though that in the near future, it will be possible for me to travel out of Burma, and that then I will be able to come to you, and be part of your campus life, for perhaps just a very short period,” she said in a video message as she received an honorary doctorate in law from the University of Hong Kong. Despite numerous invitations, Suu Kyi has not left Myanmar since 1988 when she returned from Britain to nurse her dying mother.

She refused to leave in 1999 when her husband, Michael Aris, was dying of cancer in Britain, fearing that she would be refused re-entry by the junta. The regime denied Aris a visa to see his wife before he passed away. Myanmar’s regime has embarked on a surprising series of reforms since decades of outright military rule ended last year, including freeing political detainees and welcoming Suu Kyi back into mainstream politics. Suu Kyi led the National League for Democracy to a landslide victory in an election in 1990 but the ruling junta refused to accept the result.

A 2010 vote, in which a party packed with former generals claimed a crushing victory, was marred by widespread complaints of cheating. Since a nominally civilian government took power early last year, Suu Kyi has been welcomed back into the political mainstream and her party is contesting 47 seats of 48 available in upcoming by-elections. The government has said she is free to travel but many of her supporters still express concern that she might not be allowed to return. Suu Kyi, who is standing in the April 1 by-elections, also called for rule of law in her country as she accepted the honorary degree.